Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve Eve

Things have been pretty lackadaisical (a word it turns out I'm not very confident about spelling) on the blogging front and I thought in this moment between one thing and another, I might try to say something. If 2011 has taught us nothing else, it's that just when one thinks the Blog Bully is lying dormant, or, at any rate, otherwise engaged, he may suddenly spring from the metaphorical bushes and shake his head disapprovingly. Besides, yesterday I had lunch and Project Planning with the, frankly, almost ridiculously adorable Katy Stephan (was she wearing a woolen cap, a bright blue sweater and a bright green coat-- looking every bit the heroine of some movie I'd happily see on a chilly afternoon at the Clay? She was.) who makes a song a week. Then I see that the highly impressive Lisa Congdon plans to embark on some kind of daily artistic endeavor for a year. Well. It's not like I don't have time on my hands; I've been watching Jeeves and Wooster for hours. Sometimes (read: again and again and again) it takes the example of my very prolific friends to nudge me in the right direction.

Katy, having seen the oft-mentioned list, has offered to take #13 in hand and make me a dress. Apparently, she also sews. I know. It might be better not to dwell too much on it. I don't think does it to make us feel inadequate; some people just like making things and others like, say, eating things prepared by others and sitting on the sofa. I'm terribly excited about this Dress of the Future. I think the very idea of it augurs well for 2012.

Christmas afforded me the opportunity to give my horse-loving nieces cookie cutters that will enable them to make a small celebratory herd of their own. I can only hope that they find it a less overwhelming task than I did. Royal icing? Is very sticky. Blue food-dye gel? Is very, very blue. It's possible there may still be some on the cutting board. I'm not saying. They did seem pleased, which was gratifying, although my younger niece was visibly disgusted to have been given an apron. She is ever vigilant lest we try to foist any gender normative accoutrements upon her. I would argue, however, that cookies, horse enthusiasm, and sticky hands are gender neutral. As is--ahem--the gracious acceptance of gifts.

In other Christmas news, apparently the Bible has been re-translated. Beware, lapsed Catholics. In case you missed Christmas and were planning to drop by for Easter, if the priest says, "Peace be with you," you can no longer rest in the calm assurance that you know the proper reply. "And also with you" has gone the way of hoop skirts, apparently. The (seemingly much more peculiarly translated) response, "and with your spirit" has taken its place. This sort of thing is going on throughout all sorts of prayers I thought I knew. It made for a lively mass. Well, that and the bongos. Yes. Bongos. The thing traditional carols have been just crying out for.

As 2012 rises into view, I wish you well and thank you for keeping track of me over here. I am always astonished (to say nothing of touched) when anyone tells me they read it. Though it may be difficult to detect though the veritable wall of complaining, I do live in a near constant state of gratitude. Were anyone to scratch the complainy surface, in fact, they would probably be sickened by the gooey sentimental mess of love and admiration they'd find. There are so many extraordinary people in my corner, I imagine it's pretty stuffy and uncomfortable. They don't seem to mind. I'm lucky that way.

May your 2012 be sparkly and full of people who love you and small personal hoorays.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas spirit

I bought a goofy little wooden ornament from some bygone era for my bother. It's a very cheerful cat on skis. Here he is:

Unfortunately, he came to me with one broken ski (which seems to bother him not at all, so I see no reason for it to bother me) and missing his little loop from which you can hang an ornament hook. That seemed a graver problem since he is, after all, meant to go on the tree and, besides, he can't stand. Yesterday, I wrapped him in tissue and took him to Tuggy's Hardware a few blocks away. When the man helping me discovered he was out of the very small size of eye hook required for the job, he opened up a prepackaged picture-hanging kit that was hanging there for sale, removed a little eye hook and screwed it carefully into the hole already on the cat's head. Then he just handed it to me, refusing my offer of payment and said, "That's my gift to you. Merry Christmas."

Sheesh. Hooray for neighborhoods. And kindness. And generosity. And fixing what's broken.

In case you need one, here's my gift to you:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

#63: Check.

I checked something off my oft-mentioned Life List.
#63: Buy a real painting.

I really wanted to own a painting--you know--with actual paint. Not a print. But I hardly knew where to begin. You know what there are a lot of? Paintings. Many I don't like, and more I can't afford, which narrows the field a little, but not really enough to give me a starting point. I thought that it would be really great if I could buy a painting from a friend. In that way, I would be supporting the work of someone I care about while also owning art that was that much more meaningful to me. Great idea. However, I didn't actually know any painters.

At least, not when I wrote the list. Enter: Lisa Congdon.

It's very fortunate when the painter you befriend at the moment you're in the market for a painting happens to make art you think is beautiful. She might just as easily painted a bunch of stuff with bleeding eyeballs. (I have a particular horror of bleeding eyeball paintings of which there are more than you might think. Often hung in cafes, which seems to show a real lack of foresight.)

Instead, I am really delighted to have this beautiful little forest to call my own.

Maybe she's made something just for you and you didn't even know it. You should probably check.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The results are in

NPR posted their top 100 songs of the year.

I have heard 8 of them. Eight. I counted. And one of those is by Paul Simon. Of the other 92, I had heard of maybe six of the artists.

So that's official then. I will never be cool.

It's this or silence

In which I write something for fear of slipping back into the black hole of writing nothing. The lack of what I believe is nowadays called "content" should not thwart us, right? Right.

Last night, the blog bully and I went to see a play at Shotgun, where the box office manager is perhaps the nicest man in the world, in addition to being a very snappy dresser. I enjoyed the play, and its sparkly lead actress (seriously, she just glitters up there despite being dressed in Puritan garb), however, I would have enjoyed it, say, 32% more if the songs had been much, much shorter. The songs were a little bit like "you know the story that you are watching? Well, I'm going to tell you, through the magic of song, all the things that are happening, even though you're right here. Understandably, this will take me quite a long time." Perhaps this was a popular device in Ye Olden Times? Perhaps people could not pay attention to things that were merely spoken? I don't know. On the bright side, though: sparkling girl. I cannot overstate this. Also, the blog bully brought snacks in very tiny containers, in the manner popular among parents of preschool-aged children. However, later, as he is ever-vigilant lest people develop any treacly sort of feelings about him, he mocked me for not being able walk up a steep hill at his insane rate of speed. I have a sub optimal level of fitness, yes, but I'm the one with the blog. So there.

Speaking of sub optimal fitness, the needlessly renovated gym reopens today (it really seemed quite nice before; I can only hope they have transformed it into some kind of unimaginable nirvana such that I will long to go there as often as possible) and I intend to go. This very afternoon. I have been in a pool once in the last month and a half, but that was in Palm Springs where I was floating languidly around in my un-serious bathing suit and, thus, doesn't count. Indeed, I dread shimmying into my serious, unembellished bathing suit, which more than any other article of clothing, should quite bluntly reveal what my bread-eating days of leisure hath wrought. [I suspect "hath" and "days" fail to agree grammatically, but I've no idea what the plural of "hath" might be.] Anyway, the point is, I will look silly and then I might drown. So, I look forward to that. I'll let you know how it goes.

Update: The figure I cut in my serious bathing suit was downright demoralizing, but I did not drown. This might have occurred to you since you're so smart, but it didn't occur to me: when the gym is under renovation for three weeks, they turn the heat off. That pool was cold. I hope no octogenarians (of whom there are usually many in the pool) were speeded towards their graves. In other news, there are no longer any curtains in the showers--a strange "improvement"--so my unexpected fascination with the Boobs of Others (seriously. I really had no idea they were so variable) and the cautionary tales writ large on the bodies of the elderly will presumably run rampant.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is this even legal?

The incense-scented purveyor of saris and scarves and beads and things on the corner by my work is, according to a large banner, having a "Grand Opening!" How is this possible? By my count this is fourth time the store has reopened under different names while continuing to sell exactly the same merchandise. Sometimes they actually go out of business and have a liquidation sale before completely emptying the shop before they bring it all back--display cases, lighting, cash register, ten million incense holders, boxes and boxes of merchandise--a month or two later. It seems like a great deal of work for nothing. Perhaps they have come to share that view because, this time, I'm pretty sure they never even closed. They painted over the awning and changed the shop name to "Things Lucky," (which, frankly, is not too great as shop names go). This new method seems less exhausting, certainly, but also kind of like they are--um--big cheaters?

Are you a tax lawyer? Or maybe a mafia boss? Terrific. Please explain this to me. It's been baffling me for years.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sing's a round

This has been languishing pitifully in the drafts folder for a full three weeks. It is displeased with me. But today, but hook or by crook, I'm clicking "publish."


We were addressed by several people with good things to say.

We learned that Oprah built her empire based on intention. Not the kind that the road to hell is paved with, but the kind, apparently, that changes the lives of scores of people. I have never actually seen the Oprah Winfrey show, incidentally, but don't tell anyone. What I mostly appreciated is that Brian Piotrowicz, one of the show's producers who came to talk to us, cries every bit as easily as I do. Meet a president? Cry. Meet Carol Burnett? Cry. Hear a terrible story of personal loss? Cry. Disagree with a colleague? Cry. Yep. Me too.

We learned that we are basically zombie slaves to dopamine. Okay, it was more complicated that that, but Buster is smarter than I am. Plus, his name is Buster, which I enjoy.

We learned that one way to address the profound problem of water-borne illness in Ethiopia is to get a bunch of fancy friends together and climb Mount Kilamanjaro. Look, I'm not saying it's my way, or even your way, but it was his way. And frankly, he was so handsome and charming (did he call his mother on speaker phone so we could all sing Happy Birthday to her? He did. Did she ask if he was taking his vitamins and had he met a nice girl? Uh...she did.) that you might have been briefly convinced that you could totally climb Mt. Kilamanjaro if it meant you could hang out with him.

But none of that relates to the Girl Scout song.

Make new friends but keep the old...One of the reasons that this has been loitering around the drafts folder is that I felt unequal to the task of explaining how marvelous these two women are. The good news is that during my procrastination, video of their presentations has been published. Now you can just see for yourself how rad they are.

Old, forever keepable friend: Evany Thomas. I have known Evany for about thirty years. (I know!) I don't think there is a bad photo of her in existence, though that is merely an aside. I have often told Evany that she is my hero, but she never believes me. Evany does all kind of amazing things, but she has the grace to be at least a little apprehensive about them first? I appreciate that.

Camp Mighty - Evany Thomas from Rcom Creative on Vimeo.

New, shiny bright friend: Lisa Congdon. If someone asked, "what did you get out of camp?" I'd say, Lisa Congdon. Lisa is inspiring and quite ridiculously talented and disciplined and generous and snarky. She is way cooler thsn I am. Now, she is also my friend. How great is that? For Lisa, I will try to put together some kind of vegan menu so I can invite her to dinner and you know I've never made THAT commitment before.

Camp Mighty - Lisa Congdon from Rcom Creative on Vimeo.

After the Mighty Addresses (which is a title I just made up), we broke into teams and talked about our life lists and identified five things we'd like to get done within the year. And yes, I did cry. It was exciting to hear everyone's plans and struggles and intentions, but what I found myself reflecting on most--even as I blubbered in front of a bunch of almost-strangers--was how damn fortunate I am and, secretly, even in the fearful, underemployed version of myself, how I'm pretty mighty already. Indeed, even while I was down there I got an email about performing in a story slam and another about collaborating on a podcast. I have this extraordinary community of creative people around me all the time of which Evany and Lisa are just a small sample. One of the things Evany suggested would help to make you the best version of yourself was to "have fantiasigreat friends." Check.

Here are a few of them: Katy writes a song every week. Indeed, she'll even write one just for you. Daniel and Darren and Rob have filled my life with music in a way I never expected. So has Hannah. And Lori. Sara has written/drawn several books. This one is the latest. Christopher still makes me laugh and I've known him for more than 20 years. Stephanie takes people all over the world. Abby flies through the air with the greatest of ease. Samantha writes and writes and opened the door to storytelling for me, which, to our mutual surprise, turns out to be my niche in the world. Andy has done all sorts of things including writing this book. He is developing the aforementioned podcast and wants me on it!

And those are just the people most easily linkable. There's a whole cadre of less cyber-present people who are brightening the world while being solidly in my corner. Finding your people is half the battle. This means, I suppose, that I'm halfway to being really quite astonishing.

It's finished! Can I get an amen? You have no idea what a relief it is to hit....publish.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mi dispiache

I have read in blogs about blogging (exhaustingly, such things exist) that it is very gauche to A) lapse in posting and B) then blather on in an apologetic way about it. About this I say: too bad. I fully expect to continue to do both as long as this little platform limps along. (A fairly incongruous image, for which I suppose I must also apologize.)

So here's what happened.
1. I never finished posting about camp (I will, I will) and now--lo it does hang over my head in the manner of an unfinished term paper. Interestingly, being haunted by unfinished tasks is pretty much the antithesis of Camp Mighty's Oops.

2. I got sick. Blah. And ate nothing for Thanksgiving dinner but a great many goat cheese crostini, which I was meant to have taken to the family home for hors d'oeuvres. Presumably, they managed within the confines of the actual oeuvres. We didn't really discuss it.

3. Immediate following tiresome illness, I got awfully busy at work and for days came home latish devoid of creative impulses.

4. My gym closed for renovations. I continue not to care at all nor, indeed, to notice very much. This insouciant attitude, combined with goat cheese crostini and similar, will come back to haunt me I suspect.

5. I finished Italian Two. Or, Ho finito Italiano Due. Do I parlo italiano now? Non proprio, ma posso dire uno o due cose. E molto divertente. (My teacher told us that every exercise we were about to embark upon would be "molto divertente." I love her.) Sadly, I will not be taking Italiano Tre any time soon. Forse in primavera. I will miss i altri studenti and my delightful professoressa.

6. I told a story out in the world. It made for an odd evening. I'll tell you about it sometime.

7. I got a Christmas tree. It is smaller than the first (small) one I saw and liked, but it was also not FIFTY DOLLARS. Wha? Additionally, it is from the Christmas Tree Lot of Moral Superiority that funds a nonprofit, rather than the other The Cheapest Thing Here is FIFTY DOLLARS and Funds Two Dudes Who Sell Costly Trees lot. My house is now quite snug and I think it is not inaccurate to say "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas."

8. I rendered the house jolly in the aforementioned manner while suffering from the worst headache of my life. I took several breaks in order to weep.

9. I am now better and, thus, I am here. Hi.

During the previous weeks of various indispositions, the blog bully similarly has been otherwise occupied and--foolishly--I thought I could sneak all the sloth past him, but he is nothing if not alert. Today I got busted. And I was so close, too. Sigh.

I hope that all four of you faithful readers are in good health, good spirits, and have ten warm toes.