Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Year That Was...

While I hate being told what to think, I'm a touch of a contradiction in that I enjoy the top ten lists or Year in Review items that come out this time of year. And we've already established how much I love interactive quizzes...which reminds me, it's about time for another one. Or better yet, one of those "most played" tracks list from iTunes, or another random listing. Or maybe both - we'll see. On the other

But I digress.

I found an interesting list of the Top Ten Stories of 2005 in Online Journalism. Pretty intriguing. And most intriguing of all - I would have put the use of blogs and message boards and the internet in general to reconnect families after Hurricane Katrina atop the list...but perhaps that just my American mind churning here.

Now, back to my playlists.....

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What's hot, what's not...

While we're talking about the future, I ran across this list of what's going to be hot in technology, entertainment, and the like in 2006.

Thank GOODNESS I found it...three more days and I would have been absolutely LOST! After all, I can't think on my own - No one is allowed to create culture - we're just supposed to follow along like lemmings, right?

Anyway, here's the basics. Why? Because the media says so...

Music: RhymeFest, Reggaeton, Christina Milian. Teddy Geiger, Outkast, Killers. And forget the record labels - new sounds on iTunes, myspace, and other online services

Fashion: Look for a return to preppy, collegiate styles, with upturned collars, argyle sweaters and tiny embroidered logos from the 1980s. Accessories-wise, 2006 will be the year of the tote bag.

Electronics: The iPod is still iN. So are XBox 360, Sony's Playstation3, satellite radio, and handheld communication devices.

Movies: DaVinci Code (what else!), Superman Returns, Casino Royale (the next installment in the 007 series), Miami Vice, and plenty of sequels.

TV: The Sopranos final season, The Chappelle Show, Lost, Desperate Housewives, and My Name is Earl.

I've seen the future, and it is hell

Part of my holiday tradition is spending time with the grandparents. This year, it struck me harder than ever before that genetics didn't deal me a very happy hand in this are.

Both of my grandmothers (and for the purpose of this discussion, I'll restrict myself to grandmothers) are unhappy older women. Both have diabetes, osteoperosis, vision loss, and problems getting around. One is in her early 80s, the other, late 70s. This is the hand life dealt me. Now it's up to me to trade it in, draw again, and change my luck.

This, if nothing else, serves as a good reminder to take care of myself today, because even if I'm fine now, what I do today impacts what i'll be like when I hit their ages. I don't want to be an unhappy woman. I want to be a vibrant lady in my later years. Aging is enough hell as it is. If I get crotchety and whiny on top of it, someone slap me, will ya?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sleepless Season's Greetings

Hello again to all, and a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Cherry Festivus, or whatever else ye may celebrate. I'm back after an unexpected exile, and NO sleep.

I went to see my family over the holiday. It was fodder for a number of potential posts that I'll ramble on in the next few days, but one of the shocks that I didn't learn until I arrived was that I was heading into a home with no internet service. For four long days. Talk about feeling cut off from the world. It was nice not to feel as though I was tied to the keyboard as I often do here, but it would have been nice to be able to blog some as the thoughts came to me rather than to try and write things out long hand and now not being able to read them. I had planned on catching up on some back email, and instead wrote two real letters. I stopped at two because (1) my hand hurt, (2) I was sleepy at 2 am, and (3) I didn't want to freak out any of my other friends when they receive actual pieces of paper with real words written on them in this thing called a mailbox that normally holds nothing but bills....

And on that note, Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tis the season?

Normally, I'm a Christmas kinda gal. I don't don the Santa hat or the Christmas socks or any of that paraphenalia. However, I admit I take a certain pride in finding just the right gift for people, no matter what the occasion, so when presented with such an overwhelming opportunity to do so, I seize it and run with it. The first year I had my house, I had a Christmas tree up before I had half the boxes unpacked, because, in my world, that's just what you do. Period.

This year, that hasn't been the case.

I've had a certain laissez-faire about the holiday. Sure, the week after Thanksgiving I scrambled up into the attic, but instead of coming down with all the decorations, I hand picked a stocking, some lights, and a pine scented candle, and hung them immediately. After that, I haven't done a thing. I just wrote the last of my Christmas cards an hour pathetic is that? And this year, I didn't even put a letter in them. Just a hastily scrawled "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" (or a flat out "Happy New Year" for the overseas cards that will likely not arrive until Eastern Orthodox Christmas!)

It's not a bah humbug, per se, but it's not the joy and flair with which I usually approach such a festive time. So for me, it's a tad different. Maybe it's because I've been sick. Maybe it's because I've had so much car trouble....or that I know this won't be a normal holiday, so I'm not looking forward to such a fractious affair at home. Or perhaps it's as simple as I've just been doing too much and enjoying too little. But whatever it is, 2005 is not yet one of those holidays for the memory books. And that's a scrapbook to open another time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dear (Cyber) Abby:

Now that I can count my readership on TWO hands instead of one, and I know you all to be quite the vocal group, I toss this one out there as a blatant request for advice.

You don't know this, but I'm a rather staid person in my real life. I'm usually very calm, cool, level-headed. Everyone's proverbial "rock" to lean on, if I may borrow a cliche. And I don't mind that. I like knowing I'm helpful to my friends, that they can count on me when they need something.

That said, right now, I'm going through some things that have stretched my patience to its absolute limits! The normally infinite listening ear has found its bounds. I'm crumbling under the weight of my friends' needs and of my own. An in addition, even though all these people open up to me, I don't open up to them, mostly because I don't know them well enough or because I don't trust them to keep my secrets.

There is one person whose opinion truly matters. In fact, I derive the strength to get through much of my day to day bullshit from anticipating the moment when I can fall into his arms. Problem is, I can't. Because when that moment comes, I can't seem to let my guard down. I'm afraid of...well, I don't know what I'm afraid of. Being whiny? Being bitchy? Being needy? Appearing weak? Of just being myself? Of acknowledging that I can't handle it all on my own? Who knows! That's where you come in:

What's the deal? How do I open up to this person? The simple idea of having his arms around me gets me through some of my toughest situations. However, when it comes to asking for his support, I find myself tongue-tied and silent. Even right now, after two glasses of wine, a crappy day, and a series of events that on one hand make me smile and on the other hand hurt like crazy, I couldn't even muster up enough moxie to be angry when he wouldn't come over here when I said I needed him tonight. We've had our share of miscommunications, so I'll take my lumps too...but I digress.

So - your opinions...if you have any... are always welcome. As for me, I'm exhausted. I'm going to go rinse out the wine glass before another glass of Beaujolais calls my name...

Friday, December 09, 2005

200 page views, 145 posts...Double Wow

I don't usually click through to my blog - normally I write, publish, and leave it at that. But this morning I got a tip on how to fix something that had been annoying me, so when I changed the template, I checked to see how it looked. That's when I noticed. I was viewer #200. Just in the last five weeks or so since I put in the counter. Wow! So then I decided to write about it, and I saw that this is post #145. Wow again!

I'll refrain from the lengthy pontifications that will likely come next month when I have 12 full months of archives { anniversary post...ew! ;) } But I did want to say thanks to you guys who actually do read...I think it takes two hands to count you now, and that's progress. It's nothing like another blogger I know where just one of his sites gets in a day what's taken me five weeks...but I'm happy with my little anonymous corner of cyberspace. So wipe your feet on the welcome mat, have a cup of coffee and stay awhile. There's some fascinating reading to be done in my archives.

A Tale of Not-Quite-Love

At times, I use my blog as a place to think things through, a place to articulate outrage or astonishment or write open letters to someone who will likely never read them. Tonight, though, I’m taking an idea from a friend, and simply posting to tell a story.

One of my favorite bloggers has more time to surf than I do, and in his ramblings through this space we call the web, he found an amazing tale. When he read it, it touched his heart and called to him to write about the ache of first love. When I read the two of them in tandem, the pair of posts called me to write as well, but instead of first loves, it inspired me to tell my story of not-quite-love.

I was 19 and home from college for the summer. (That’s always a good opening line, right?) He was 26 and worked in the office where I found a summer job. We hit it off wonderfully! He was kind, chivalrous, mature, fun-loving yet not quite over the top in the way of the college boy who’s trying too hard to be noticed. He wasn’t the most handsome of men, but I’ve always been a full-package kinda gal…and let’s be honest here…I was slightly overweight and awkward myself. After all, 19 isn’t the height of self awareness you believe it to be when you’re living those years.

He rented an apartment from his parents to save money. I lived with mine for the whole summer, so I was at least satisfied with the fact that he didn’t live under his parents’ “roof.” He lived one hour in one direction from our office, I lived half an hour the other way, so most of our interaction was going for a bite to eat after work, or playing mini-golf with other co-workers. We had a blast!

Then it happened.

We were standing in the parking lot one Sunday afternoon, the sun was shining, we had just had a wonderful day, and he moved in to kiss me. Time slowed like a bad B-movie. I could see him tilting his head, closing his eyes, and moving in for that moment of long-pondered lip lock. The voice in my head was screaming, “Noooooooooo” in that baritone fashion voices always assume when they’re slowed down for those kinds of Hollywood moments. However, I didn’t say it. I let him kiss me. And that was the beginning of the end.

The spark was there, but the chemistry to take that moment beyond its flash point and fuel flames from the ember, was not. At first, I blamed him. I thought that he was just out of practice and the kisses and chemistry would get better with repetition. They didn’t. Then I blamed me. I enjoyed his company and we could play a mean game of Trivial Pursuit, so there had to be something wrong with *me* that his touch reminded me of a limp celery stalk, his kiss of a fish pulled from the water, flopping unpredictably and in vain as it tried to find comfort once again. So I stayed with it until he broke it off, saying he was ready for a family and I had too much school left to make that a practical option for him.

Fast forward two years later. We’ve not spoken, although we did exchange letters twice a year or so….I was on track to graduate and had found a job in my college town to sustain me while I looked for real work. He moved out of his parents’ apartment and to the town he worked in, where he met a wonderful lady. Then one day, my phone rings…he’s on the other end, wondering why I hadn’t RSVP’d for his upcoming wedding. I’m not an irresponsible sort – I had never received an invitation to start with. Not that I expected one, so it threw me for a loop when he gasped in astonishment and sent one out that night.

Put yourself in my shoes for a minute… You’re within driving distance, you have the day off, and the guy has obviously gone to trouble to make sure you’re there… What would you have done? I went. The ceremony was beautiful, and I saw a few friends before wishing the happy couple well. End of chapter, close book.

Not quite! Two years later I went to a high school reunion. I had actually tried to set this man up with one of my friends when we broke up and before he met his now-wife. This friend was at the reunion, and as we reminisced about the old days, she asked if I ever spoke to our mutual friend. I said the last time I had seen him was at his wedding.

She looked shocked.

30 minutes of conversation later, the final pieces fell into place: our upstanding chivalrous citizen…had cold feet and wanted a booty call! My invitation to the wedding never got lost in the mail. He never sent one to start with. He wanted me to come home and talk him out of it, but he would have preferred I not use words to do my persuading. How do I know this for sure? Because he spilled all to my friend over martinis one night, but she had no phone number to call and warn me. She didn’t think I would’ve gone. But I did.

I haven’t spoken to him since the wedding. I recently found something he was looking for a long time ago – I’ve pondered sending it to him with a “hope you’re well” note, but every time I come close, I think of that reunion night conversation and stop myself. If he does still care, I can’t accept the karmic responsibility or opening up someone’s old wounds for something so small. It would be so much easier if I didn’t know that – if I could just be myself and assume that he’s happily married and therefore any act of kindness on my part is merely one old friend to another, without any thing else in the mix. But I can’t.

Ah, the complexities of not-quite-love…

Monday, December 05, 2005

Words for an Absent Friend

The sun has long since set on my side of the world. In fact, only the ticking of my watch marks for me the first hours of a new day. My neighborhood fell silent hours ago, arriving at that same state of suspended quiet you hear inside when only one person tries to make a house, a home. Or perhaps you don’t hear it at all.

Outside, raindrops resonate as they fall slowly onto the city street. The clouds release them so reluctantly, if I tried I could count each droplet just by listening for the sound when it strikes the earth. Inside, the clacking of fingernails against the keys adds a rhythmic accompaniment to nature’s melody. The words banging around in my head cry for escape, coming together as inspirations and ideas that sit in my brain, half formed, until they gather enough strength and wherewithal to command my full attention. Only then will they obtain that which is necessary for every idea and concept and theory to survive – life independent.

My thoughts tend to percolate until they become a running soliloquy in my inner monologue. I search for the right words to express emotions so real to me they have become tactile, with every sensory characteristic of a living, breathing entity. Until the words are perfect, however, I keep them locked inside, and at times, even beyond then. Some nights, the words are there, but the opportunity is not. Others, the desire to compose exists, but the words have left me. At times, I’ll write just to see the words on the page, in hopes that by writing of a topic of little consequence, the greater themes will follow once the words begin to flow. Then, there are nights like this.

Half-formed thoughts swim in my head tonight. I haven’t the presence of mind to try to explain why my brain believes they belong with one another, so I won’t even try. Tonight I write to capture the moment, to use words for the pure joy of seeing them come together and provide you with a glimpse into my mind tonight. I commit this crime against true literature without premeditation, and out of sheer indulgence.

I feel the need to write something in honor of a friend of whom I’ve lost track. We’ll call him, “Mark.” Mark is, for me, one of those people we all have in our pasts – one with whom our paths crossed for far too short a time, but who made a large impact in that brief moment. Mark loves language – he can turn a phrase that is both concise yet complete, and just writing to his level improved my skills as well.

Meeting Mark was like finding a lost piece of my soul residing in the body of another – so strong was the connection, so immediate and so enduring. Or so I thought. About a month after we met, it became clear our friendship was to become a victim of a cruel temporal prank. His job pulled him away, and as the physical distance grew larger and larger, our emotional distance grew more and more tenuous. I never had the opportunity for that closer inspection that reveals whether the imperfections underneath his amazing façade would have been endearing, or repulsive. Then again, as I walk down the garden path in my mind, perhaps it’s best the blush is still on that rose.

Regardless of what could have been, I live in what is now. We lost touch, but I still think of Mark and his love of language. Tonight, I sit and write in his honor. I hope someday to find him. Until then, I continue to write. Some nights, for the thoughts…some nights, for the release…and some nights, for the process. Tonight, for him.

To missed connections the world over, my friend. Saluté.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Stupid Question

Okay folks, I'll show off my lack of techno-savvy. I'll admit that I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm trying to figure out why the type has gotten smaller overall on my blog, why the footer lines are microscopic, and why there is now a category for "links to this post" when we all know no one links to this blog.

I'm actually kinda shocked that I have 132 hits here in the last month. That's AMAZING to me..even though I know it's the same handful of people, and that about 10-12 of them are me checking changes that I've made and seeing whether I had fixed the tiny type problem....

But I digress. Ideas, anyone?

Edited Saturday December 3 @ 11:15 am: Okay, so I went back and tried to read the HTML code...I tweaked one space that looked kinda random to my limited knowledge, and Voila - it looks normal again. Le sigh.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Speaking of Movies....

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time (or read the archives) knows I'm a sucker for quizzes. So when I saw this on another blog I read, I had to try it...and when I read the answer, it made the cut to make it onto the blog.

So, what kind of movie would my life be?

The Movie Of Your Life Is A Cult Classic
Quirky, offbeat, and even a little campy - your life appeals to a select few.But if someone's obsessed with you, look out! Your fans are downright freaky.
Your best movie matches: Office Space, Showgirls, The Big Lebowski

A cult classic, eh? Now it just needs a name. Here lately, how about Writer's Block!