Thursday, December 24, 2009

Time Keeps On Trippin'

Time is a trippy motherfudger.

I'm on Long Island, near the area where I grew up. My earliest memories look just like the places I went today: small houses tightly packed on every street, trees lining the spaces in between and every empty lot, diminishing as those are these days. Snow is coating everything following a recent storm. I can almost feel the same air I used to breathe. It's weird, and not a little unsettling.

Nothing about this place feels current. It all feels like an old dream. Where I live - my current life - the houses tend toward Spanish or Craftsman or Mid-Century in style. Here the old Dutch Colonials stare back at me, beckoning me to come inside. Come walk around with my eyes closed. I know the way by heart. Did I really live here, grow up here, have an entire existence here before I knew there was more?

We had dinner at my aunt and uncle's tonight with my grandfather. Grandpa has Alzheimer's disease and it's been a couple of years since I've seen him, between my living out of state and his reduced attendance at the annual family gatherings. My dad and I picked him up from the home where he lives now and brought him back to my aunt's. He was hunched over and using a walker, and though he seemed to recognize me as an old familiar, he certainly didn't know my name and couldn't retain where we were going or why. He did manage a bit of a quip every now and then, a throw-back to his razor sharp wit and gregarious nature. And when the Christmas carols came on, he sung along full pipes.

Coming back here is like Indiana Jones in the snake pit: face to face with my greatest fears. I've written of being upset by time's rapid passing and my reluctant inability to make it slow down. I am both afraid of the future and of time's passing. I find myself in quite a conundrum.

My friend is in the hospital tonight in labor, her first child on the precipice. I am overwhelmed for her and envious all at the same time. Time is definitely not standing still for her.

Merry Christmas to you. May we find ourselves with the intelligence to live life fully, every day. May time not intimidate the best intentioned of us. May my friend have her baby soon, and a healthy baby at that. And may my grandfather be with us next year to sing another verse of "Auld Lang Syne."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Same Old, Same Dlo

Much like Mary must have felt traveling for days, nine months pregnant on the back of a mule, I made a ten hour journey today in the back of a Civic being driven by a Dlo. Today's journey was broken up by meals at not one but two diners and an impromptu visit with some dear old family, my mother's cousins. We just so happened to stop off the highway in the very town where they live to get a bite and my mother just so happened to direct us to a shopping center directly behind their house. Just so happened is highly suspect, but there you have it. Next thing you know we were climbing out of the car, heading up the walk to ring their bell. This was our second attempt. The first was aborted upon realizing we had the wrong house. Thank God - I can imagine the look on my mother's face, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" trilling out of her mouth, as a stranger opened the front door. "Where is Cousin Johnny??" she'd sputter before the realization of our mistaken location came to her.

But there we were, gingerly climbing the path up to the front door, my father's "Oh look, they salted the walk for us!" an all too predictable joke that would surely be making another appearance for Cousin Johnny when he greeted us.

My mother's insistence that we weren't staying, weren't to take off our coats, only were going to say Merry Christmas and then be on our way was as realistic as a six foot tall leprechaun wearing a yarmulke and toe shoes. Our cousins insisted we come in and have coffee and dessert with them. Very old school. Very yummy, too: dessert was delightful Italian pastries; sfogliatella (yum!), cannoli (double yum!) and those multi-color mini-cake-slice cookies... I never was crazy for them though tonight, I could have been tempted. It was all enticing.

My mother, who earlier today announced in the car with some concession that she and my father were no longer Dlos In Training but Full-On Dlo (I consider it a gift in the spirit of the season that I didn't inform her they'd been Dlo for several years now), felt bad that we'd intruded on their dessert. It was obvious though that our unexpected visit was a deeply felt treat, a true gift of the season. Family is family. What ever happened to stopping by to say hello to the people you love?

Coats on, scarves tightened, we headed back to the Civic to resume our journey. "Thanks for salting the walk for us!" my father shouted back.

Same old, same old.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Thank You, Samuel Adams

Being with family has been better than I expected (though I'm reserving the decision to rescind my previous reservations until after I've seen my sister) but it sure makes for dull writing. Where's the wit in rocking your five year old nephew in your arms until his breathing becomes steady again after he cries his eyes out in the bathroom because his parents are out for the evening? No, no wit there. Just unbridled affection. He's a very tender boy.

So I thought I'd take this time to... to... look ahead to 2010? Reflect on how my kids have grown? Ponder the Middle East crisis?

Heck no. The kids are down. I'm having a beer.

One Will Be Just Fine

According to my horoscope, I will receive something special from someone I least expect today. I am super-psyched. Christmas isn't for another four days. That rules out Santa. And my family and I exchanged gifts last night, plus I was kind of expecting those presents, so it's probably not them either. This means I'm likely going to be meeting a stranger bearing gifts today. I can't believe it - my very own wiseman! Will it be frankincense, myrrh or diamonds?!

I will keep you posted. I have to cut this short - I need to shower; the mailman might be arriving soon. He could be the one!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Das Boot

I had the joy of going ice skating with my eight year old niece this afternoon. By ice skating with, I actually mean skating next to my niece while she clung to my arm and shuffled her feet. We were there about an hour and a half and I'm guessing the total number of loops we made on the ice where she was not touching me to be point-six. After about a half hour she spotted a friend with whom we did another couple of rounds, the most successful being when she held one hand with her friend and the other hand with me. And finally after a bit of whispering between them, I got the boot: she wanted to skate alone with her friend.

I adore my niece. She is my secret favorite of all of them. I'd do anything for her. So of course I said no problem, then skated off freely on my own, gliding across the ice while keeping a distant eye on the girls from across the rink. I didn't mind getting the boot; she seemed really happy to run into her friend there. And seeing my niece's face light up when I rejoined her to shuffle her off the ice at the end made me know she loves me for more than just my arm.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Le Tigre

[Editor's note: January wrote this at approximately 4:15 am, body-time. She posted it later on a computer. If she ever figures out how to blog from her iPhone she will announce it via iPhone from a remote destination such as Paris, the Serengeti, or the Ancient Ruins of Ouxexiahaha.]

[Editor's note, part 2: January has final editorial review over all Editorial notes. Therefore Editor can not accept responsibility for the potential fabrication of exotic locales or, say, ancient ruins.]

I am sitting at a motley painted picnic table in the most unlikely
place for such an item: Chicago's O'Hare airport. I'm in the middle of my red-eye flight back east. I fell asleep on the last flight before we took off so that should give you some indication of how awake I am right now. That and the fact that I'm typing on my swanky little pink netbook. Oh, wait. I don't have a netbook. Make that thumb prancing on my iPhone.

I am not long for this world of thumb blogging, so I'll keep this brief. Plus, I'm not sure we're all ready for January Stream of Conscious on four (?) hours of sleep. But I saw an advertisement as I walked out of the terminal too priceless to pass by. Naturally I stopped and took a pic.
Um, I think it is to him.

Happy Travels.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

It has just hit me: I'm leaving my home for two weeks. I'll be living out of a suitcase for two weeks. Worse still, I'll be around less than desirable family members for part of this time. And perhaps worse yet, I'll be spending a chunk of it in Astoria, Queens. Sweet God above have mercy on me. In all my time in New York City I was first a Manhattan then a Brooklyn Snob. I don't look warmly on the other boroughs.

I'm off today and hopefully Friday; I still have crafting to do (yup, my efficiency meter shot sky-high at the idea of making individual notecards as gifts this year - clearly it didn't foresee the five hours it would take me to make my first set of ten), cleaning (I'm afraid the fuzz in my shower will become a jungle by the time I return in January), laundry and packing. All this when already at the precipice of a mental break. I don't think cleaning is going to help my mental state but perhaps if I sniff the Ajax a bit I'll become disoriented enough to forget what was stressful in the first place. Oh, shoot. Traveling. I remembered.

Let me lay it all out for you: First I'll be in a small rural town in Upstate New York. Beautiful? Yes. Will I get to see any of its beauty? No. I'll be snowbound. The forecast for every day through my visit is for snow. I've made a mental note to get out the big suitcase since I'll be bringing my snow boots with me. There I will be with my brother & his family, his offspring being the highlight of my trip. The kids are wonderful and I love them! My parents now in their retirement live there too. I love all these people but the chemistry with them all together is highly combustible. I am thanking God my sister and her brood aren't joining us - last Thanksgiving I ended up crying in the pantry with a bag of almonds in one hand and a napkin in the other, trying to dry my eyes before I reemerged. My sister in that exact mix of personalities (my immediate family!) is deadly. It's amazing I made it to college alive.

After several days in the Arctic, I'll be riding with the Dlos down to NYC (well, Astoria) and will have Christmas Eve all to myself. In Queens. No walking out my apartment door to the grand sights and sounds of Manhattan as I'd hoped. (That friend's boyfriend is coming on Christmas, putting the kibosh on my staying there.) I will be seeing the lovely elevated subway train and using it as a beacon to the spot where my train to salvation will come. I will hop that train and ride it for dear life into Manhattan, and hopefully even to my old hood in Brooklyn. I hear there's an Ikea there now. Not bad! One can always cure the blues with a day spent wandering the Swedish Halls of Decoration at Ikea.

On Christmas day I'll head to New Jersey (what?!) for the traditional family gathering, then likely head home for the night with my sister. See my reference to her above. This I am not looking forward to. Anywho, the following day I believe we'll be gathering with the Dlos as well to do our own little Christmas celebration. My sister's house is very like that of the old nursery rhyme except my sister isn't exactly an old woman. But they may have had more room in their shoe than my sister and her family do in their abode.

As previously mentioned, I will later be heading up to Rhode Island to rendez-vous with a dear friend and come the following Sunday, be back to my home. My home. This is where I live now. Trying to fit in where and with whom I used to live doesn't fit at all. The longer you are away, the less skewered your vision gets, the more you see things and people for the way they really are. Sometimes you see they're more beautiful than you ever considered. Other times, you recoil from the ugliness that stings your eyes with every glance.

I am hoping that Santa grants me another Christmas miracle, that of unexpected joy. With my expectations being so low, the chances of them being exceeded are looking pretty good.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fung Wah Wah Wah Wah, Wah Wah Wah Wah

One of my all time favorite movie scenes: Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant after their home-cooked meal was eaten by the dogs, in "A Christmas Story". I'm sure it's politically incorrect to find their mangled version of 'Deck the Halls' hysterical, but I did and I do. The 10 year-old me and my current self have kept our sense of humor at inappropriate things. Some of them, anyway. Apparently the 17 year-old me also shares this humor, as I can recall an instant with a certain foreign guest speaker and a faulty projector screen in Social Studies one day. Hey, I am... was... and always will be... human. Sometimes laughing is the only exercise I have for days. Allow me my follies.

The title of this blog post is an altogether different Chinese reference though. I am going back East over the holidays and will need to get from New York to Providence (don't feel pity for me, but do send cash) as efficiently as possible. This lead me to buses. And that lead me to the mythical Chinatown buses. I've heard of them for years but never took one when I lived in New York. Allegedly, they run back and forth between New York and Boston for a ridiculously low fare. And this afternoon, with the magic of the internet and a twinkle of pixie dust, I found proof of such a bus! By proof I mean an internet site, but everyone knows if it's on the internet it's legitimate. In fact, any day my new unicorn, Henry, is arriving with his two bales of regenerating hay and self-cleaning pooper scooper. I cleared out a closet for him. It's a very exciting time over here.

Anyway, I've found a super cheap bus (yes, by efficient I really meant "cheap") to transport me from Chinatown, New York to Providence, Rhode Island, fortunately not my last destination on that particular trip. I will meet a friend from there and travel on in relative luxury in her Ford Focus. I will tell her how to say "hello" and "flower" in Chinese, and read her her lucky numbers. I may even tell her a joke ("What did the cow say?" "Moo"), who knows. Really, taking a Chinatown bus will be nothing short of magical, so it'll all kind of be downhill after that. But I feel sure that finding this bus line is a little Christmas miracle. Though it will be after that day, perhaps I can rouse my fellow bus riders to a spirited, if not mangled, rendition of 'Jingle Bells.'

Um, scratch that. Better make it 'Oh Christmas Tree.'

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The More Things Change

Well, hello again. Funny seeing you here. Me, I haven't been around in ages. In fact I see the entire eleventh month of this year went by without so much as a peek-a-boo. You'll have to forgive me... see previous post (the one and only from the tenth month). Like the bruise I got at 11 when they tipped over my canoe for my water safety test at Girl Scout camp, I have healed but am still very sore. Unlike that bruise I am not black, green, blue or purple. So I'm grateful for small favors. But I still am resisting re-immersion into my life... not a good thing, truth be told. I've used far too many chocolate chips in an attempt to numb the hurt. I am here to tell you the results are very short-lived, but for the inches on my ass. I feel they're sticking around until I kick them out forcibly. However, enough amusing activity has arisen this past week that I felt the urge to write about it. I feel like a mental hospital patient on a daytime furlough: titillated yet sedated. Hmm, perhaps I should trade semi-sweet chocolate bits for little green and white pills. Food for thought.

I met a man of interest in the last couple of weeks and we went out this week. We met at a common activity and were drawn to each other right away. He has extremely strong energy. And I, I have mesmerizing eyes. [Editor's note: January's doctor has encouraged her to write as positively as possible, so please excuse any artistic excesses she may take.] Anywho, he and I hit it off and saw each other again a couple of times with the group. Then we ended up going out together alone... Um, it didn't start as a date but I felt certain by the time he stuck his tongue in my mouth that it was, in fact, a date. Or at least a demi-date. Yes, I think given the last-minute arranging of plans and my semi-reluctance to kiss or cuddle with him, demi-date may be a good term for it. He's intriguing, older, energetic, shares the same faith as me (a big bonus, believe it or not), and seems like such a great catch. Ah, but he's older. And, um, carrying about 30 extra pounds on him. Does that make me a bad person, being dis-attracted to a man with a belly? Oh, and the Fu Man Chu mustache has got to go. So... I think he does too. Only I was supposed to see him again tonight.

I bagged off. I'm too stressed already, I couldn't handle more this evening. This is why dating sucks so badly. Either 1) I don't meet men I like, or 2) I meet men I like but they don't like me or are unavailable, or 3) I meet a man I may like but by the time I figure out I don't like him, he's fallen head over hells for me and is difficult to cut off. I hate hurting feelings. Breaking up with a guy is almost always as bad for me as it is for him.

I am seriously considering online dating or joining a convent. There has got to be a better way than this rotating assembly of side show attractions. Where are the single mid-to-late 30's men with minimal baggage, strong faith and no bellies???

Oh Lord. Where are those little chocolate pills.