Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Have you read these books? And other random musings

The summer after I graduated from high school, I held my own reading boot camp during which I tried to read as many "classic" books as I could because I thought most people read those kinds of books in high school and my education had been deficient. Out of dozens that I tried to get through, the two that I can remember reading and actually enjoying were The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. The one that I can remember absolutely detesting was The Stranger by Albert Camus.

I had this ridiculous romantic notion that when I got to college, I would find a boy who would want to hold my hand, gaze into my eyes as we walked across the moonlit quad as he recited poetry. Yes, I actually did believe that. When I got to college, I briefly found a boyfriend who wanted to hold my hand and gaze into my eyes as we walked across the moonlit quad but the last thing that probably ever crossed his mind was reciting poetry. He might have hummed a Grateful Dead tune once or twice.

It so happened that I didn't have to take any English classes. I might have done so for sheer enjoyment but my college English department was heavily influenced by the southern women writers genre which was not my thing so the only literature classes I ended up taking in college were through the Latin American Studies department.

I lay this long and boring history before you to confess that I have not read any of these books. I haven't read very many classic books at all. And for whatever reason, that has started to bother me. So I downloaded a few different lists of Books that Everyone Should Read and I hit the bookstore tonight. I got these three and three others that quite likely I will never get through. But I'm going to try. I threw one Charlaine Harris vampire book into my pile because, well, I have to keep it real.

Another thing that has been on my mind these last few weeks is the One Little Word for 2009. Ali Edwards links to this idea on her blog and last year I picked the word "Focus." It actually worked! For the first time, I accomplished some of my New Year's resolutions. I ended up focusing on 2 different things than I originally anticipated but that's probably okay. So far, I have decided the essence of the word I want to use for 2009 but not the actual word itself. The ones I've come up with so far seem too related to food and that's not the point at all.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope all of you have a very happy day with family and friends!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We have lost our minds

"We" as in the entity created when my husband and I decided to get married and abandon our individual identities. It makes it easier to blame our peculiarities on the collective rather than assuming any personal responsibility.

We returned from vacation just over a week ago and since then have done a passable job getting the tree up and the house decorated for Christmas. We've wrapped presents and played festive music. In fact, we even managed to sneak away to see the Transiberian Orchestra which is a holiday rite of passage that I think everyone should do at least once. As Justin says, it's a weird Christmas metal thing. We mailed cards, baked cookies and cinnamon rolls and mulled some wine.

But in the midst of the holiday rush, my car decided that it wasn't really happy about the arrival of winter and began to rebel. First it was a belt that needed to be replaced. And then the exhaust system sprung a leak, creating a very attractive Nascaresque rumble whenever the car was actually used to drive. And then the fuel line froze, forcing us to call AAA not once, but in fact, twice in one day. Faced with the choice of thousands of dollars in inevitable repairs, "we" decided to go car shopping on the day before Christmas Eve. Because we are so organized and we have absolutely nothing left to do to get ready for Christmas. Yeah, that's us.

So 7 hours later, we came home with a new car and at 7:00 this evening, my husband ventured out to finish his Christmas shopping. (Have I mentioned yet that we celebrate Christmas with his family on Christmas Eve day?) What else is a father to do when his little girl tells the kindly Mrs. Claus at daycare that the only thing she really wants for Christmas is the EZ Bake Oven frosting pen even though that item wasn't on any of her Christmas lists? I'll be doing laundry into the wee hours and trying to figure out what to do with the piles of paper that mysteriously continue to accumulate all over the house despite my unparalleled organizational skills. And cook. And finish wrapping the presents for tomorrow. And watch Lord of the Rings for the 3925th time. Nothing says it's Christmas like the Lord of the Rings.

Oh, and choose paint colors. Because as soon as all of this joyous celebrating is over and the last tiny shred of wrapping paper discarded, we are going to start painting the interior of the house. Because at some point over the last month, we clearly just gave up any pretense of sanity.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Family get togethers are always so much fun

I am not a hair/make-up/clothes person. But every once in awhile, a mood strikes me and I decide that I want a fun and funky hairstyle or I decide that my hair is hopeless or I just get in the mood to be girly. And when that mood hits, I call George.

George is a hair genius. He is employed by an international hair product company called Keune and he travels all over the world doing hair shows and teaching and other seemingly glamorous hair things. In his regular life, he took over his mother's beauty salon in western Pennsylvania and a few years ago, rented space in my office building for a second salon that he opens twice a week. This always confuses me a bit because in the towns where he works, George's clientele is mostly older women who like the big blue bouffants. (Although George doesn't do blue. But you get the idea.) George seems very happy and I am very happy that he came to my town. When George touches hair, something wonderful happens.

It also happens that George is a very witty, sarcastic person who gets along well with just about everyone. When the Obama campaign opened an office in our building during the primary, George hung a huge McGovern poster in his window. I adore him. Everyone adores him. Including "Midge" (changing names and details just because it's the right thing to do!) who is a long-time companion to one of my family members. Midge doesn't like anyone or anything. But she loves George.

So it happened today that I found myself in George's chair telling him to do whatever he wanted to my head. And he started snipping and snipping and hair was flying everywhere. I squinted in the mirror (sans glasses) and wondered when it happened that I got my great-great aunt Edith's jowels. George kept snipping and eventually started drying and straightening my hair. (George always straightens my hair. It's part of his magic because no one else has ever been able to straighten it.) Then I heard her. "Why are you running so late? It is my turn and there are still two people in front of me? I have to leave at 3:00!" And George said "hello Midge!"

Midge walked over and said "why don't you wear your hair like that all the time? It's so much more attractive, I don't usually like your hair at all, all those curls, do you like it? You should wear it like this always." George was speechless for a moment and then mumbled something about how my hair always looks nice but Midge was undeterred. "No, no, I don't like it. Her hair. But this, this looks good. She should keep it." And then she started complaining again that he was running so late. And George turned to her and said very sternly "stop nagging me Midge!" And darned if she didn't giggle! I've never heard her giggle.

And then I put on my glasses and saw that George had done something that made my great-great aunt Edith's jowels disappear from my face and I decided that Midge was right. I'm thinking of inviting George to Christmas this year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

Because Pirates of the Carribbean never gets old. Ever. Never ever ever. Except to the people in the boat with my family as we sang "Yo, ho, all together, hoist the colors high..." over and over again. We are a family who is passionate about our alleged pirate ancestry. Even if they called themselves buccaneers. I'm sure they were just like Johnny Depp.

We are returned from our 10 day vacation to Disney World. There were some highlights. There were some lowlights. But these moments were my very favorites.

My obsession with seeing an alligator in the wild has become a bit of a joke. Through several vacations down south, much time wasted prowling near the banks of ponds and irrigation canals, until Saturday I still had never seen an alligator in its natural habitat. (Well, we did do an bayou tour in New Orleans and saw lots of alligators then but they were lured with chicken and that doesn't count. Same with the one who lived outside the restaurant in Mexico where we went on our honeymoon.) But Saturday was the fateful day! We went to Kennedy Space Center which is surrounded by a wildlife refuge that is habitated by, well, wildlife. And I counted 11 alligators! Victory! Space shuttle? What space shuttle, look honey, it's an alligator!!!

Peter. Peter, peter, peter. Peter Pan has been sending Charlie letters for two years now. They are good friends. Grace's favorite movie is Hook. Followed by her second favorite movie Peter Pan. Followed by her third favorite movie Return to Neverland. And yet we were never able to find Peter on our first trip to the Magic Kingdom. We found him this time. And if my mommy heart could have melted from seeing the joy in my son's eyes as he got to meet Peter for the first time, it surely would have.

Really, it's just beautiful. I'm pretty much over Disney theming and Disney in general and theming and theme parks in general at this point but the castle lit up with icicle lights at night still has to be one of the prettiest things I've ever seen.