Saturday, December 31, 2005

Notice RE: Death of the Blog

I have to say, I have been very impressed by the heartfelt, sincere, and sometimes whiny responses to the impending death of my blog. They have made me want to reconsider my decision. However, I am currently visiting my family in Whittier, where the following conditions apply:

1. I have caught a severe head cold and can't hear out of my right ear.

2. The region will be subjected to downpours for the next three days, i.e. the remainder of my trip to "Sunny California."

3. I am crushed and weakened by the steady diet of white flour, fast food, and Laffy Taffy that is the only sustenance available in the suburbs.

As a result of the aforesaid conditions, I find myself stripped of any decision-making capability. For this reason, I am afraid you will have to check back at this location in a few days' time to see if your galvanizing efforts have paid off. In the meantime, Happy 2006! (I will be spending mine under a blanket watching a "Star Trek" marathon. The burbs aren't all bad.)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Consider this a Card

I really respect people who send out Christmas cards. Actually owning the addresses of all your friends, licking and stamping scores of holiday envelopes, and trudging to the post office with the final bundle are things that impress me, yes they do. I am not one of those people, though. It is yet another one of those projects that are muscled out of my life each year by things like poorly timed literary journal deadlines and a roomful of unwrapped and irregularly shaped Christmas gifts.

But I think a Christmas card can tell you a lot about the people who send it out. Do they send you a photo from the past year of them doing something meaningful? (Another option: doing something sporty and windblown) Do they settle upon the traditional snow-covered valley scene or perhaps something in the manger family? Or, do they go with this year's special, a card from the Baby Explosion movement. (This is a very cute option, even when, as in the case of two of our friends, this means a picture of their dog.)

Since the arrival of so many cards in my little mailbox over the last few weeks engenders feelings of, you guessed it, Christmas guilt, I feel the need to take the unabashedly half-assed way out and send a Christmas e-card to y'all right now. After all, the mini outpouring of support and resistance at the news of my blog's ending was touching and fills me with something not unlike the Christmas spirit. (It also had the side benefit of revealing my most loyal blog readers as well as those who have mysteriously fallen off the face of the earth yes that means you Mark Huntsman.) So, this is what I would have said, had I gotten my act together and sent out the 60-odd Christmas cards necessary to get the job done:

Greeting and Merry Christmas! We hope everyone is doing great. James and I had a great 2005, a year that saw us take on new jobs, visit Prague, and have lots of good times with...

Yeah, okay, I see why this isn't working. Any Christmas card about my year that would be suitable reading material for all sixty people on the list, including grandparent-types and former bosses is, let's face it, just not fun to read. Upon further reflection, I stand by my original decision. If you read this blog, you already know what I did this year and are probably sick of hearing about how I'm "working on my dissertation" and "eating organic food." I've just realized that my blog is my (year-long) Christmas card, and, viewed that way, is actually much more extensive than most people's. So, less guilt for me. I suppose if I didn't cancel my blog I wouldn't have to do Christmas cards next year, either.

At any rate, I did enjoy receiving Christmas cards from all of you who sent them, I really did, and please don't strike me from your list next year in anger. I must sign off now, as I am headed to Fenway Park to pick up a few last minute Christmas gifts (I just love saying "I am headed to Fenway Park." When I eventually leave Boston, that will be one of the things I miss saying the most.) Since this will be my last post before Sunday, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday and a most cheerful Christmas morning, itchy reindeer sweaters and all.

Friday, December 16, 2005

In With the New

I always knew I would only do this blog for a year. It was one of those things I had always wanted to do (and by "always," I mean since about 2002, when I first heard about blogs), so last January I decided to start it up. Incredibly, that year is almost up; the days left in 2005 and in this blog are ticking by quickly, so if you have a burning desire to hear me wax profound (or inane) on a particular topic, now is definitely the time to put in your request. It's a "Last Dance" kind of moment. (Speaking of "Last Dance," I have to say that is the weirdest, most alienating song to play at the end of a wedding/prom/party type event that I can think of. It starts out slow and touchy-feely and then breaks into this jolting disco inferno style wackiness. Just a bad, bad song.)

2005 was a good year to try out a few other new things as well. If you don't know what they were, that just means you weren't paying enough attention to this blog and you missed the post about my lesbian kiss on the beach. Wait. No, that was the O.C. Well, I did get hooked on a LOT of new t.v. shows.

And I did take an acting class, and I joined the adolescent yet somehow fully absorbing world of fantasy basketball, and I taught at Harvard, and I played a convincing adult at several Irish lit conferences, and I worked on a (losing) local political campaign, and I learned how to cook with fennel, and I was on t.v., albeit on the worst channel ever, and I turned 30, and I learned that fluoride is slowly killing us all. (Damn, I won't have a chance to post about that. Just trust me on this and get a reverse-osmosis filter for your tap asap.) I enjoyed 2005, for the most part, and I really liked trying out a few new things.

I would like to hear if you tackled anything new this year, large or small. Please do write in if so--just make sure it wasn't anything too impressive so I don't feel dwarfed by your achievements. Only a few more days left to post your inner feelings...

Thursday, December 08, 2005


It's almost Christmas, which explains my persistently crabby demeanor and frequently alarming mood swings. I just realized it's almost Christmas a few days ago, at the same time that I realized I have purchased zero Christmas presents. Zero. And the thing is, I can't even go out and rush around fake-festive department stores clogged with billions of other people to buy overpriced gifts that no one really wants because I can't think of anything creative or useful to get them right now because I have other things to do, like read an entire book of Joyce criticism and write a review on it for an obscure Irish literary publication so that 15 people can read it come February.

No matter how well everything is clicking or how precisely I have lined up my little ducks, right around this time of year I always suddenly feel overwhelmed and over-rushed. I find myself cursing more and smiling less as the end of each year creeps up. Until New Year's Eve, of course, which I love and who doesn't--because what's better than a holiday where the only requirement is to dress slutty and drink a lot before midnight? Thanksgiving, with all that eating, is fabulous, and New Year's Eve, with all that drinking, is a great time, but Christmas BLOWS. Is anyone else with me on this? In case you're still not convinced, here are a few more reasons:

1. If you've moved to the other side of the country in an ill-advised bid for a fun autumn lark eight years ago and never moved back, you have to fly home for Christmas. Which is the most expensive time of the year to fly, as well as the most congested, and by congested I mean both the airports and the nasty, snuffling man next to you on the plane who snorts phlegm into tissues which he then stuffs in the crack between your seats.

2. The aforementioned gift-buying. A task which doubles in size and unpleasantness when you get married and have to now think about appropriate gifts for all of your in-laws, who are secretly but undoubtedly mad at you anyway for taking their first-born son away from them to accursed California every year for the holidays.

3. Guilt. The guilt of the Christmas spirit, namely determining whether you have it or not. When lights go up all around downtown and fancy office buildings put polar bears in the vestibule, you feel the obligation to get "in the holiday spirit," even though I've noticed it generally takes either a windfall of cash or actual spirits to make this really happen. It's especially hard to get in the "holiday spirit" when you are rushing to the grocery store or the dry cleaners in a car that persistently threatens to seize up and die in the cold altogether, or trekking down to Government Center where you must apply in person for a Boston parking permit when it is 7 degrees outside with the wind chill. It almost makes me miss those foil-wrapped palm trees that come out every year for Christmas in L.A.

4. Santa and "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" and Kwanzaa stamps and bell-ringers and fake Christmas trees. Just the fact that Christmas isn't real anymore. If I was going to do Christmas, I would take my family (just people that I like) out into a really cozy cabin in the woods with a fireplace, and we could bake homemade sugar cookies with icing that are so easy to make that those Pillsbury break-apart things in a bag are a travesty, and we could watch '80s movies, and have wonderful, sleepy pajama breakfasts and no one would have to buy each other a thing to make this happen. Wouldn't that be nice? Of course that's not how it's going to be. The reality is awkward small talk with distant relatives and dressing up in itchy sweaters for uncomfortably boring get-togethers and the familiar haze of the Christmas story in the background that is in desperate need of a fresh re-telling to make you care.

If you disagree, by all means make your case. Maybe you are one of those people who hauls out the Christmas stuff after Thanksgiving dinner, or whose favorite childhood memories involve steaming mugs of yuletide cider and non-terrifying visits to the mall Santa to tell him your gift list. Maybe you like all the non-stop holiday parties, those embarrassing displays of inebriation, oversharing, and erratic behavior from co-workers that are an inevitable part of every office Christmas party (Actually, I like those too). Perhaps you don't tire of hearing about Joseph, Mary, and Bethlehem, and this story somehow still strikes you as unusual and poignant. Far be it from me to marginalize the true believers among you. If you love Christmas, let me know like Cindy-Lou Who so you can warm my Grinchy heart.

Even now, I have to admit all might not be totally lost. As it does for all good Scrooges, redemption for my curmudgeony little self beckons this coming weekend, in the form of tickets to "The Nutcracker Suite," one of my own childhood favorites and a lovely tradition just re-introduced by my sister, who believes in Christmas. It might be just the event that brings me back to the holidays. Whatever the case, it will be accompanied, as all good holidays should, by lots of eating beforehand and plenty of drinking afterwards.