Monday, December 29, 2008

The Little Things Count the Most, Always

The end of another calendar year draws near and it always causes me great nostalgia for just about everything from friends, new and old, family, living and passed on, and places, those I have been to and those I intend to see in the upcoming year. Aside from my birthday New Year’s Eve is my all time favorite holiday and the night is always memorable; the fact that most years I shed a little tear for the passing of the calendar is purely tied to my heavily reminiscent personality.

My mom used to have a big party every New Year’s Eve, the house was filled with her friends and it was the one night we were allowed to stay up late if we could make it; my earliest memories of Saturday Night Live are attached to one of those parties. One year, back in high school, four of us from the gymnastics team decided to get dressed up and go out for Italian food and when I went to shake cheese on my ravioli, the top came off, which prompted all of us to laugh the entire night. Another year, my best friend had some of her college friends come up to party and we all got hammered on champagne right in the middle of the street at the Boston Harbor as we watched the fireworks with about 200,000 other people. As the clock ticked over to the highly hyped Y2K I gained some geographical space in North Carolina with a friend, her husband, sisters and other family and as soon as the lights did not actually go out forever we all passed a joint around.

As I get ready to celebrate moving nine years into the new millennium, things in my life have changed dramatically but one thing remains the same -- I never spend New Year’s Eve with people I do not love. If the year to come is a reflection of the way we rang it in then I certainly want to be with the people I love, doing exactly what I want to be doing at that moment. In recent years, with the exception of a very blurry memory of a visit to my sister’s a couple years ago, Matt and I have generally spent the evening with S & B; we have dinner, chill at their place, pop champagne at midnight, hug all and kiss our respective other half and end up falling asleep at approximately ten after twelve. With them having four month old babies this year, who knows if any of us will even make it to see the clock tick over.

This past year was up and down, back and forth but so many shades of grey in many areas of my life so I have been thinking back to New Year’s Eve last year and trying to remember how I spent the time as we rang in 2008. The four of us toasted to change and growing families as well as friendship and bonds that will never be broken. This got me thinking about new people in my life, how giving and kind they all are and how so many things can change from one year to the next.

Over the past year I have met some amazing people through blogging and even though we are all very different people when it comes to age, gender, rearing, religion or writing style the common thread is that we all enjoy supporting one another’s achievements. I have met two wonderful gals outside of our little virtual world, Trayce and Bridgete, and I suspect that everyone else is just as fantastic as these two gals because, frankly, I do not surround myself with people who suck. (Yes, I stole that line from my sister but it is rare she finds time to read my blog anyway so it is likely she will never know it. And if you do, thanks Wendy.)

One new friend, Rose, was so generous recently and sent me this beautiful Christmas ornament that she hand painted just because, what a thoughtful gift! I do not have a tree so it is dangling from my candle holder instead.

Ginger was kind enough to mail me a box of henna hair color after I mentioned thinking about giving it a try (I am still a chicken right now but someday…).

I do not know what the future holds but I do know that this coming year is sure to be full of great times and adventures, family, best friends, writing, selling, new friends, creativity and exploration but most of all a heaping pile of gratitude for how far I have already come. Ringing in 2009 in two short days I plan to toast to new adventures and amazing success for everyone I know and love. Have a safe and happy New Year everyone.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reflected Projections

I sit here at my desk and begin to wonder when I let go of myself. When was it that I allowed myself to focus solely on what another person wanted me to fit into? What kind of life would I have led if I could determine the turning point, the moment in time where I let it all go, and go back to make the opposite choice? Would I be married, own a house, have a car, be in love? Would I be alone, party like a rock star, feel trapped inside freedom? I have no knowledge of what would have happened because life is not a Choose Your Own Adventure where I make a selection and move forward with the story, but just in case I get to peek at the other pages to see if it would have turned out any better, or even just different.

The thing about those books was that the ending, the actual ending of the story, pretty much always turned out exactly the same no matter what path we all chose in the middle. Kind of like life I guess. We are born and we die and everything in between is just a series of turning pages. As is typical, I almost get a glimpse of it but in the end push it away because it is fruitless to try. Just like I feel about everyone else, I will never really let myself change.

As babies, children, teenagers, and sometimes even into early adulthood, other people determine the path. We clearly can not feed ourselves or change our own diapers at infancy and as we grow into teenagers and begin to explore our worlds the people who are closest to us want us to be protected so they establish rules and restrictions on what we are allowed to do. We take this at face value sometimes and the longer we allow another person to make those choices for us the more natural it seems that this would continue all the days of our life. That another person would just continue to coddle us, to “raise” us, and of course to make all the decisions seems like it would be the obvious path.

The fantastic thing about letting someone else run everything, make all the choices and determine the journey that we take, is that we are never to blame if something should go terribly wrong. There is always a scape goat to pin the problem on because we were never the one to make the decision in the first place, it was always someone else. It really is simultaneously liberating but stifling to realize it is not possible to ever be wrong because I never make my own choices. A blessing and a curse to be sure.

I can easily sit around and talk about everyone else and all the bad decisions they make because I am in the perfect place to judge; remember, I have never made a wrong choice in my entire life! Of course, I am somewhat conflicted because, again, I have not made any choices at all. I am not sure how much I like that and I am starting to wonder if I am just a sheep following a shepherd blindly to the edge of a great precipice. For the first time in all of my years on this Earth I am slowly starting to question everything I have grown to believe is right, everything I have been told (in a manner of speaking) to think and feel but at the same time I wonder if it would actually be possible to transform.

Since I have slowly been convinced to change but did not fully realize it was happening to me all this time, what could I possibly do to go back to my own train of thought? Did I ever have one to begin with?

I guess the bottom line is that I have grown accustomed to whom and what I am, to how I live my life and to my daily surrender so whether the answer to that question is yes or no is really of no concern because as we all know, I will personally choose to do nothing about it either way.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh It Is So On

Its all about fun today, the stars are saying it, the attitude is saying it and the blogs are screaming it! Woo hoo! I love fun! Right on Bridgete, thanks for opening up the door to some mindless fun!

Apparently I love exclamation points today in addition to fun, they are really the only appropriate punctuation marks to use when having such an awesome time! Right?

OK, the object of the game…

1. Pick 16 of your favorite movies.

2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.

3. Post them here for everyone to guess.

5. NO GOOGLING/using IMDb search functions.

I am omitting rule #4 (4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.) because, well that’s just how I roll. It will be more fun to chat in comments I think.

Let’s get it started in here.

1. I'm gonna hit you so hard that when you wake up your clothes will be out of style!

2. Oh I'm the weird one? You're the one calling Barry Manilow from a phone booth at 2:00 am!

3. That's right. I mean - why? Because they haven't won a World Series in a century or so? So what? They're here. Every April, they're here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don't get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that's here for you.

4. FUCK YOU MONTY! Always gotta be right, with your little quips! We get it, man. You're fuckin' edgy and cool. Yeah! You're the coolest fuckin' guy at Shenaniganz! WHOOO! That's like being the smartest kid with Down syndrome!

5. There must be something between us, even if it's only an ocean.

6. Don't worry, Penny. There's still plenty of time to get pregnant and go on welfare.

7. Some people have a hard time explaining rock 'n' roll. I don't think anyone can really explain rock 'n' roll. Maybe Pete Townshend, but that's okay. Rock 'n' roll is a lifestyle and a way of thinking...and it's not about money and popularity. Although, some money would be nice. But it's a voice that says, "Here I am...and fuck you if you can't understand me." And one of these people is gonna save the world. And that means that rock 'n' roll can save the world...all of us together. And the chicks are great. But what it all comes down to is that thing. The indefinable thing when people catch something in your music.

8. True love is hard to find, sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a goddamn magic show ready to double team your girlfriend...

9. Since when is being a slut a crime in this family?

10. I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?

11. You wake up at Seatac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O'Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, mountain, central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?

12. MG: Have I stepped over some line in the sands of coolness with you? Because excuse me if somebody doesn't know the secret handshake with you. TD: There's no secret handshake. There's an IQ prerequisite, but there's no secret handshake.

13. You know what I'm going to get you next Christmas, Mom? A big wooden cross, so that every time you feel unappreciated for your sacrifices, you can climb on up and nail yourself to it.

14. You know, Charlie, there are two kinds of thieves in this world: those who steal to enrich their lives, and those who steal to define their lives. Don't be the latter. Makes you miss out on what's really important in this life.

15. Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side...

16. I am guided by a force much greater than luck.

As a side note, because I have seen all of these movies more than a boat load of times, I know the wording in some of the quotes is incorrect & it’s killing me not to fix it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Am I Seriously That Desperate For A Blog?

The answer you are looking for is, yes. Yes, I am definitely that desperate for a blog. OK in all fairness I am really only desperate for a personal blog because I have been writing Green Leaf Reviewer every day for a couple months now so my brain is pretty much just jostling around in the eco friendly water and it is like I lost focus on everything else. Or at least my ability to write about it. So lucky for everyone that follows me this might just be the most chaotic of all my blogs yet. Look for fun links to hysteria.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my “career”, or rather what I think I really want that “career” to be. Yeah if I was talking out loud those would have been annoying-girl air quotes because to me “career” is not really something I ever considered real or tangible, it was always just a mystical thing that people who went to college for four years fell into as soon as they got out. The rest of us, who got bored too quickly and did not quite make the college cut, worked all weekend in retail jobs or as Executive Assistants (or as I like to call them Prostitutes Without the Sex [hopefully] but Only Very Rarely Earning Similar Income).

I used to work in the most boring job ever in this exact role (seriously, 5 minutes of work a day…that will probably become a chapter, definitely a fun story full of interesting characters). Keep in mind that I started with this company in a February. I kept a journal with me at all times to write out my thoughts because after the first three, eight hour days in a row of doing nothing but playing spider solitaire I was starting to freak out. I called it my boredom journal because when the boredom began to rise I took great pleasure in replacing it with a scribbled line of crazed insanity that I might be able to use later. On May 9th I wrote:

“Day after day there are news stories reported about people who literally snap. I believe these people are Executive Assistants.”

I actually managed to stay at that job for another five months and never lost it (miraculous). Of course, I quit with no notice via email (something I had never done before or since).

Most of the jobs I have had over the past twenty (::scary::) years I kind of fell into out of some random twist of fate -- I knew someone who knew someone and it got my foot in the door, or, I was just a write off so the interview was nothing more than to make sure I had a social security number for tax forms. I was really tired of the role I had carved out for myself in the corporate world, the one I could never seem to advance past even though I was always eager to, so for the past year I have been running my own business doing faux finishing. I love faux but it is a shelf life job because seriously I will not be climbing up and down ladders to pounce glaze at age 65 (so you better go ahead and hire me now before its too late…you know who you are).

Then what is it I really want to do for a “career”? It is a good question and one I have been asking myself a lot because I feel that once I have the answer it is actually going to show up. My loose response is I want to be a writer. Narrowing that down a little further it comes down to novelist or blogger. I wonder why I can’t just get paid to spout all this hoo-ha. I mean, hell, if I could make a living doing it, I would definitely start writing this every day. Heaven knows I have plenty of insanity running around my brain that I could satisfy a daily purge. Bukowski did it. At least I’m pretty sure he must have. His stuff is pretty fucked up ya know? The encouraging news is that his writing did end up published so there must be some market out there for the crap I have to say too. I mean, he even got a few novels out of the deal.

The issue is that when I think of a novel it tends to be some 400 page glory-story with a plot and characters and a setting…blah, blah, blah. I have about four of them in various stages sitting on my hard drive right now but every time I open them up I end up doing nothing more than editing what is already there and closing it because my inspiration expires. Probably because none of what I wrote is in any way related to my lame life of football watching and sewing so now comes the big question -- how do I write the real novel that is floating around in my schizo brain, manage to get it published and sell a bajillion copies so I can go ahead and call what I do a “career”?

Or, is the real question -- why do I give a crap about having a “career” anyway and how about just having fun with what it is I want to do then just enjoy when the money follows?

Hmmm. Interesting concept and advice I have given to many people many times so why do I find it so difficult to take my own advice?

Ah…questions that never seem to be answered are on the rise again! When I reread all my old journals that becomes like a metaphor for my entire life.

I guess the real moral of my story up to now is that I need to stop being afraid to just put it all out there and finally get my shit together to do so.

End rant.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Star Studded Cast

A friend of mine sent me this video today and although it was made well after the vote in California, I figured it was worth sharing because anything with Neil Patrick Harris is pretty much going to be great as far as I am concerned.

Seriously, he was the only thing that saved Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Well, him and that cheetah, the rest of the movie was just completely unbelievable.

Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Margaret Cho, Jack Black, Andy Richter, Allison Janney and Sarah Chalke, among many others, dance and sing around the issue of gay marriage in Prop 8 - The Musical.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Here It Comes Again. Sigh.

Last year at this time we were living in a little beach cottage in Humarock, marveling at the fact that it snowed there in early December. This year we are living in a little apartment, still in Massachusetts but a bit further inland, and yet I am somehow still marveling at the fact that winter is officially here as the snow began to fall this morning just before I woke up. Denial. It is a happy place. At least in my head because I can wear flip flops and tank tops all year long.

Every year I try, really and truly I do, to embrace something about winter. I make my best effort to psych myself up to the fact that as long as I have some fluffy socks, sweat pants, long johns, a wool hat, scarf, heavy jacket, gloves and earmuffs that I will be able to make it through. Sadly though each year, I am reminded that it is still mother-effing cold as the tears I shed instantly turn to icicles on the only two inches of exposed skin I can bring myself to reveal. They do not call us “hearty” in the north east for nothing. And it has barely even begun yet. Surely this is the year that I will perish (read: I am a drama queen when it is cold out).

Geographically speaking we have not gone far but in many other areas of life things have changed a lot in this past year for Matt and I, as well as life milestones for a lot of people we know like the birth of babies or graduating from college. All in all 2008 was a very jam packed year and we are still living it up for the last few weeks of what is left on the calendar. Because we have decided that it is important to drag our sorry cold butts out of the house even in winter, last night we had the distinct pleasure of going to listen to the North Reading Chorale perform at their annual Holiday Concert. It was just what we both needed to get into the spirit of the holidays and one of the best times we have had in a long time.

My Mom’s friend is in the Chorale so really we were going to see her but what a pleasant surprise it was to hear the thirty seven members (including her) belt it out in perfect unison while accompanied by three flute players, a guitarist, three percussionists, a trumpet player and four bell ringers. They were, in a word, amazing. The concert went off without a single hitch and they performed classics like White Christmas, Adeste Fideles, Silent Night and All I Want for Christmas Is You. But then the song of all songs came second to last and I wished I had recorded it.

The name of the song is The Twelve Days After Christmas and thinking back on the lyrics of this hilarious song might just save me from one more day of frigid peril. Well, this and the onslaught of yummy food available at this time of year.

The first day after Christmas, my true love and I had a fight
And so I chopped the pear tree down and burned it just for spite
Then with a single cartridge, I shot that blasted partridge
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me

The second day after Christmas, I pulled on the old rubber gloves
And very gently wrung the necks of both the turtle doves
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me

The third day after Christmas, my Mother caught the croup
I had to use the three French Hens to make some chicken soup
The four calling birds were a big mistake for their language was obscene
The five golden rings were completely fake and they turned my fingers green

The sixth day after Christmas, the six laying geese wouldn't lay
I gave the whole darn gaggle to the A.S.P.C.A
On the seventh day, what a mess I found
All seven of the swimming swans had drowned
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me

The eighth day after Christmas, before they could suspect
I bundled up the eight maids a milking, nine pipers piping, ten ladies dancing, eleven lords a leaping, twelve drummers drumming (Spoken: "Well, actually, I kept ONE of the drummers" ) and sent them back collect
I wrote my true love,
"We are through, love!"
And I said in so many words,
"Furthermore your Christmas gifts were for the birds!"

Today will be a fun day of watching the snow fall and football while cooking soup, sauce, lasagna and chicken stir fry. I think I will stay away from that French hen soup though.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My Nose Says Holidays But It Feels Like Spring

There is a saying in New England that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change (Bridgete just pointed this phenomenon out while her dad was in town). Yesterday I went to get the mail mid day and heard sleet pinging off the front of the building. By the time I had gotten back upstairs the sleet had stopped and big fat snow flakes were falling from the sky. Last night it was raining pretty steadily and mid thirties; the sun is starting to break through right now and temperatures are beginning to climb into the upper fifties.

On Thanksgiving there was sunshine but it was fairly chilly where we spent the day and for the first time in a long time I let go of a lot of old traditions associated with this holiday. There were times throughout the day that it seemed odd to me as I chatted it up with people I do not normally see on this day and ate foods quite different from the ones I had grown accustomed to but for the most part it was a fantastic day filled with laughter, family, fun and food.

Some of that food, of course, came home with us including turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and creamed onions. By the next day everything but the turkey was gone and I was strongly considering what to do with the three slices of white meat, chunks of dark meat and wing we still had laying around but no extras to eat with it. This morning I decided a soup would be a nice idea and for the first time ever I attempted to just wing it, like so many people I know who cook, and just throw a bunch of stuff in the pan.

In case anyone is looking for what to do with their leftovers and are not going to make cocktails out of them (tried to find the link but to no avail, this was a story on local news on Thanksgiving night -- gravy cocktail no joke!) I strongly recommend trying this fly by recipe out. For those of you veggies out there just exchange the turkey for extra veggies like celery, broccoli, corn or anything else that graces the table during the holidays because the spices will really flavor them up nicely!

Smells Like Thanksgiving
Fill a medium sauce size pan about three quarters full of cool water
Shake in a bunch of brown rice (less than a full cup)
Cut up carrots & onions and add as desired
Throw in all the leftover turkey you like
Shake in dry basil, black pepper, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg as desired
Add about 4-5 small cloves
Cover & slow simmer boil about 2+ hours

Here is what it looks like on my stove

I hope Matt gets home from his appointment soon or I might just eat it all without him! It will definitely be enjoyable to walk off this filling meal later today in mid fifty degree weather on December first. Who knows what it will be like tomorrow so I am fully taking advantage of the beauty in today.