Monday, December 31, 2012

Travelling through continents and time with Sinatra

I just updated my list with the latest book that I finished.  I had set a goal of reading 62 books and I did it, there were books that got read in a couple of days and there were books that took me a while.  I traveled through these books to Australia in the Light between the Oceans (and winced as a mother for both women in that book), I went to Norway and Sweden and realized yeah that idyllic life the media here keeps telling us about - not so much - there are violent and bad and good and oh yeah people are people everywhere even with an exorbitant tax rate and universal health care.  There were the times I cried for the senselessness of wars (Iraq Yellow Birds and Homefront or Vietnam The Things they Carried) and the survivals (Argo and Unbroken).  "Oh my " trips to the red room - spank me now - and crazy twists with "Gone Girl" - still shaking my head from that ending. Rediscovering Somerset Maughan and travelling through the 20s (Chaperone) and the past/present (11/22/63) understanding that even if you could stop a terrible event it did not stop other terrible events from happening.  I went and cried again for the Kennedys (Kennedy Detail).  Learned about how misinformation if said enough times becomes religion (Swerve and Under the Banner of Heaven and even Red Tent) or reality though it is false (Panic Virus). Spent time in a "Lifeboat" and "Running the Rift" in Africa.  Took myself through journeys of survival with my son in the I Survived books. I learned about the greatness and absolute imperfection of Robert Moses.

All those and some that just reminded me of love and humanity and laughter.  It was a very good year for books.

There was lots of Frank Sinatra (who was in books and music) and rediscovering Jackson Browne.  I danced along and sang too loudly in my car that "We R Young" and twirled my imaginary phone cord of my princess phone (back to teenage years) while I too swore with Taylor that "We are never getting back together" - EVER!!  There was Ray ( who never leaves my mind or my music).   There were old artists and new songs and lots and lots of fun sharing these with the boys.  Of course there was so much Adele that at some point if that had been a record there would have been scratches...never mind I'll find someone like you.

There were movies  - lots of them animated and some of these better than the not animated ones (and did I get a kick out of thumb ring, tattooed Santa in the Rise of the Guardians).  There were plays that left me with tears of laughter in my eyes (Nice Work if you Can Get It, Anything Goes) and those that left me with tears (Death of A Salesman).   There were plays that left me well slightly more turned on than any of the 50 books (Venus in Fur - nothing like seeing nothing and envisioning it all).

There was Homeland -- umm really a break no you do not need a break as I need to know now how Carrie and Saul are going to handle this Brody issue (or is there an issue ? did he do it? ooooh I need more).  There was Downton Abbey with it's lovely house and pull - sexy and oppressed at the same time.  Madmen where is there anytime one cannot have a cocktail and "zou bisou bisou" everyone let's get it on 60s.  Guilty pleasures in American Horror Story - ok it's just Dylan McDermott that I watched for whatever.

It is often said that these pursuits of books, music, art, movies, tv ...well they are useless, frivolous, a waste of time...but I argue they are not.  They are part of what makes life special and I appreciate being able to have the stolen moments to squeeze these in...they take you away and bring you back slightly changed - they are the soundtrack to your moments and most of all these things are what made 2012 memorable.

Happy New Year and I cannot wait to travel more with my earbuds on in 2013

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

So the final wrapping has been done...the cookies for Santa have been bought....and I am ready to enjoy the next couple of days with my family.

As an atheist I do not get anything except a smile when people wish me a Merry Christmas.  I know that there are those out there who do not like it because they are of a non-Christian faith, or of no faith or just a pain in the butt but for me it is a better thing to say than ...I hate you ..I hate this season...or anything else that does not bring to mind the smell of fir trees, glittery paper and overall a spirit of giving. 

Christ was a man whose basic goal was to spread a message of love and kindness....for me he did not need to be more because if we all spent more time being kind to others well would the world would be just that much better off. You need to understand the message even if the messenger means different things to you.  We need to stop asking for others to be exactly the same as us and remember it is the differences that make this planet so much wondrous.   

So in that spirit of overcoming hardship for love, accepting each other as we are and hoping to give along with presents a gift of ourselves and of really being there for others who are both close to us and unknown I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A wrapping I will go..high ho..

Deep breath in and out and in and out....I just read a wonderful blog about trying to squeeze all things in as a Mom...and at this time of year K you nailed it....I hesitate to even glance at the still growing list of stuff I have to do.  The presents were given for Hanukkah, not bad considering I am not Jewish, well except for one night. Oh ok I missed one came home and orbited me like planets around the sun ...tired I did not gently in my best Brady Mom voice ask (oh ok I may have been a bit snarky ...I was tired ..eye roll) "what is it?"...and then the disappointment until I lied...yep I lied...told them of course I did not forget ...come on how could I forget...seeing the light in their eyes as I told them their gift was.........$5 each of Itunes center field Mommy catches the ball - strike 3 and the crowd goes wild!!!! 

Then on to ordering Christmas presents, buying said presents in stores, hiding said presents in deepest parts of basement ...lucky I am not a eeek girl and cobwebs meet their match in my Swiffer, I am Princess Leia in that room that is locked all year and never used except for my stash at Christmas.  I am  sure the boys don't even know the door opens.  The first time I saw it my vivid imagination took me to the Amytiville house (and if you have to ask what that is - Google can help) ...previous owners of our house, well he was an artist so the room has red paint splattered on concrete walls, and really has no purpose that I can see except to be either Satanic ritual place or Return of the Jedi Spiderwebs ...perfect for hiding stuff from kids.  To my relief I have never seen pig eyes...again Google Amytiville Horror --- spooky movie.

On to going into said nasty room, music on because yes I will freak myself out, and wrap presents in a room with no real table top so my Romanian gymnast genes (non-existent but asked about often by those whose main knowledge of this small country is Nadia Comaneci and Dracula -- trust me I get a lot of weird flexible blood drinking questions) come in handy as I maneuver evil shaped (besides making these non-rectangle/square shapes can we also admit that the evil empire that makes these in factories also ensures that they are Homeland CIA worthy in terms of the number of twists, ties, mini bolts and other creative holds that no thief except one from the CIA would be able to undo, especially while children are screaming and you are trying not to run with scissors on Christmas morning) boxes into semi decent wrapped presents, scotch tape often in my hair, and then write the name tags with my left hand (am a rightie) so said children do not see my handwriting and realize Santa is just the fat guy who gets all the credit and Mommy gets all the credit card bills :)

Where is my husband, father of said children, ummm oh yeah usually tossing me a few things to wrap for his family (if he has not charmed me into - didn't want to say suckered - buying the gifts myself) and then watching some sort of ball game and flicking channels as if it was an Olympic sport.

Deep breath ....few more days....and in light of senseless tragedy well this is all worth it....a wrapping I will go a wrapping I will go.....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I am not ok....yet

I am not ok - have not been all day since I heard about the shooting in Connecticut.  I was not ok even before I knew how many children were killed ...and I was most certainly less ok when I found out the total number of victims.  I am not blaming a god I do not believe in and I find no comfort in trying to convince others of anything other than they should find comfort where they can.

I am not ok today - and I have not felt this powerless, shocked, angered, sad, and confused since 9/11.  I do not blame the tv, the mental health system, politicians or gun makers.  I do hope that getting a gun is something that requires more screening than it currently does in many places and maybe the question or really who needs anything other than rifle for personal use?  I mean automatic weapons - what the f*&k are you hunting? It is not ok to have lax gun laws - they need to be much stronger. Though let's not kid ourselves they will not be a magic shield they will be a deterrent in many cases at best.

I do not think it is ok that I had to cry in my office and try to make sense of a day that just made no sense.  That in my spirit of holiday giving and warmth this cold crept into my soul and strangled it - making it hard to breathe much less think.

I am not ok with having to tell my 8 and 6 year old in terms that will not scare them what the tv or other kids may share with them about this - to tell them that bad people are scary but they should not be scared.

During those awful hours and days after Columbine, as we see again today, the world around me tried to gain control by blame - the only blame I have is for the shooters - so instead of spreading more hate can we look at ways to work together without finger pointing and instead opt for hand shaking agreement on how to protect our children?

I will be ok because I still think of these horrors are not being the whole of the world (my thoughts also went to the 22 children who on Thursday   were stabbed in China by a random man)- the wars, the deaths, the pain - they are real and a walking boogeyman but they are not all we have.  If there is a god figure you believe in may they bring you the peace you need to see the world for what it is - imperfect and beautiful.  I for one am making peace again as I do after these events that leave me horrified and numb, grateful for my friends and loved ones, by turning to my writing, to my music and to rebuilding my soul.  I cannot control the world but I can control the soul that refuses to remain in a cold grip by enjoying my days, loving with abandon and most of all by still believing that this incident is not the world - this is the exception.  There is nothing more beautiful than the sound of children's laughter - the smiles on small faces - the glitter in their eyes as they discover something ----- that is what we owe our children so that they can be ok.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Days go slow but years fly by

I just recently heard this expression and I thought it was brilliant.  This time of year always makes me stop, blink and wonder where did the year go???? 

I remember being a kid and thinking the year 2000 -- wow big deal - and then Y2K - and now 12 years into the double Os and that seems like so long ago.  I look at Facebook and wonder how my high school friends could possibly have high school kids of their own ?  I read my sons' Santa letters and know these are going to be a thing of the past sooner than ever ...gone will be the magic that they have in thinking that there is someone out there who grants wishes just because they wrote him a letter.  

So here I am again this time of year and wondering where to next?  I mean how did I get to be 45 ???? I often joke with a good friend about how long we have been friends - because it seems that 15+ years could not really have gone by since we first met.  I am not one to want to repeat stages of my life - they are great memories and I am at an age when I can appreciate the choices I made because even when they were not the right ones,  they were the ones I remember and use to learn from.  

I am so far from my own letters to Santa but I still close my eyes some days and marvel - at music, at art, at books and at the friends that have surrounded me for many years or who I have added later in life and most of all at my children.  There are no elves, though I do wish I had minions a lot of times, but there are host of people who I cannot imagine how I would get through life with.  There are no toy deliveries but there are constant gifts both physical and emotional that I unwrap with the people in my life. 

So here I am 45 - really???? when I am going to feel like that should mean some sort of boring adultness ? - and the only thing I cannot seem to think of is what I would ask the magic man at the North Pole for besides the usual stuff  (peace on earth, happiness to all, some gorgeous jewlery and shoes - shoes- shoes) and yet part of me thinks this is the time to seize the day and change next year.  

Before I go and try to get it all together to make the "magic" of Santa happen for my kids I want to take a moment to say how much I enjoyed moments of this year.  I want to fly with the end of the year and meander through the next few days and weeks.  There is so much I thought I would have done by 45, such lives I would have led - you know when I was a kid and 2000 seemed so far in the future - and there is so much more that I was lucky to have unexpectedly have actually done.  

Dear Santa - just keep letting the adventure continue - -I have been good (mostly), naughty (ummm not a 50 shades memoir so will just leave it at naughty) and once in a while a combination.  Bring me what you will ...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'Tis the season of gift giving

I am going to go against the PC grain here - not surprising knowing how I am such not a fan of the political correctness movement.    I love Christmas and the whole decorating, present buying, way NY looks during this time season.  I cannot wait to put up a tree and the way it smells inside the house, getting out the decorations which as you hang them bring back memories of either the family moments I spent with my parents as some are from that time or of my first tree in my own first apartment (Charlie Brown tree for sure but mine) and of the things we have bought, gathered, made with my husband and the boys.  I do decorate my house, the menorahs they made sit proudly next to Hanukkah bear which is next to the Nutcrackers on the fireplace mantel.

I love the way lights up and decorations - and yes the crowds can be annoying - overall I find people are in better cheer.  Here is where the optimists reading this think everyone is in better cheer, the pessimists remember the angry driver who beeped at them while the light was just about to turn green and the realist in us knows it is both of these.

I know that people want me to say that it is about the spirit and the "feeling" of the season but while those things are true I have to admit it is also about the presents.  I just don't buy into the whole getting socks for Christmas is good because you needed them.  
There is no part of me that can relate to all this whiny there is no need to buy presents bandwagon that so many people (as they sport their latest Apple product to Tweet about it) keep trying to push on me for this season.  To all of you - well good for you hope you find happiness with granola cookies baked under the tree.  It is where I am so much more a capitalist because at Christmas I like to buy and get "stuff".  I like to buy presents that really make a person smile.  I am not downplaying the needy and those who cannot afford even their basic necessities but that's another discussions all together.  My pretending that I just want a nice pair of silk thermals when in reality the little blue box from Tiffany's would make me happier - well that just makes me a phony. 

I love buying presents - I could buy for the boys until their little heads would spin - and I know don't spoil them, they have too much  - but as long as it is not beyond your means what exactly is wrong with a day of spoiling them a little more than usual?  I look hard to find the presents that match each person, often from a nugget of information that we exchanged during the year.  Many of my friends have what they need and are fortunate in that respect so finding a present that is not a gift card is so exciting for me.  The giving is what makes me happy so budget gets stretched.  Hardest part is not the wrapping - not my best skill, though I love the pretty paper and even that I use with the receiver in mind  and I love the way a well wrapped present looks- but holding myself from giving the person the gift as soon as I get it.  I am that child like in my thrill to see if they liked it or not.

So as I make my list of gifts to get I remember how much the people who are getting these gifts mean to me all year round.  This month is all about how much I like this time of year ...and how I am not going to feel guilty about it while I shop, shop, shop - after all I am helping the economy....tootles

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's,
I really do believe in you,
Let's see if you believe in me......Eartha Kitt