The Progression of “I’m Not Making Too Much for Christmas Dinner”

My family is pretty much…Italian. Especially my Mom.  Every year  around this time the conversation about Christmas Dinner plays itself out in this manner (which I would not trade for the world).

A month before Christmas – possibly on Thanksgiving: 

Mom: I’ve decided not to make that much for Christmas Day dinner – I’m just going to make Ravioli or Ziti. I can’t make a ham/turkey/roast beef this year. It’s too much work.  We’ll just have Italian food.

Me: That sounds great, Mom. You don’t need to cook an Italian meal to be followed by turkey/ham/roast beef with all the sides. We just had all that with Thanksgiving. You need to relax and enjoy yourself. I’ll make the dessert.

A few weeks before Christmas: 

Mom calls me on the phone:  Hi! I’ve decided I need to make some meatballs and have sausage with the Ravioli – and maybe some Chicken Cutlet Parmigiana and Antipasto.   Will you make two desserts?

Me: Yes, of course. I thought you weren’t making a lot of food this year?

Mom: Well, I’ve invited (insert a few more people), so now I want to make sure they all have enough food.  I can’t just make Ravioli.  Do you think I should buy a turkey? Or a roast beef? I want to make a broccoli casserole along with all the sides. What do you think?

SIDE NOTE: My mom makes enough of each item to feed everyone…as if it was the only thing they are going to eat…for then next 72 hours. 

Me: Mom – you’re making too much food. No one can possibly eat all that. Don’t make the Thanksgiving stuff. We just ate that. You need to relax and have some FUN on Christmas Day.

Mom: Ok – Just the Italian food then. No ham/turkey/roast beef. Maybe some stuffed chicken breasts?  Don’t forget to bring your cookies with the two desserts. Should we have more than that for dessert?

Me: NO! We’re good, Mom.

Two Weeks before Christmas

Ring! Ring! (my work phone) –

Mom: Hi! It’s Mom, I’m at the store. I just got the ham along with the Ravioli. Do you think 10 lbs will be enough? I’ve got the chicken breasts too since I know you don’t eat ham. I’m going to wait until next week to get the stuff for the sides.

Me: Mom… Please don’t call me tomorrow to tell me you’re making turkey too.

 

I love my Mom.  And I cannot wait to take home leftovers on Christmas Day.

She taught me how to cook for an army and these other two essential things:

  1. Never pass up a bathroom – EVER
  2. Where’s your purse?

Happy Holidays, My Friends!

Posted in Family, Food, Humor, love | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

BOOKSTORE! Oh Wait – you’re THAT kind of bookstore…

books

Oh how I love a good bookstore.  I’m not a browser per se, I like to go in an BUY many, many bookish things. I have some sort of disorder that doesn’t allow me to leave a bookstore with a single purchase. I can leave with less than one but mostly more than one…Never. Just. One.  But I digress.

On my family’s recent vacation to the lovely coast, I spied a used and out-of-print bookstore.  I was all giggly inside with anticipation.  It even had a great name (which I won’t give because I’m about to bash this store).  I started making plans to ditch my husband and son (at the music store) and wander on in. Then I saw it.  These uppity words on the window:  We Only Sell Books Without Batteries.

Well yippy-ding-dong for you.  You lost me as a customer.  Not because I think eBooks are better than paper-books. But because I cannot abide that kind of snotty attitude. About books no less.

AS IF THE FORMAT WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE CONTENT.

As if the author was not important
As if the words themselves were not important
As if there was something more ‘intrinsically’ better about a printed book
As if there was something undesirable about an eBook.
As if it mattered.

It does not. A book is a book is a book. Printed, hand written, eBook… it’s about the READING OF THE BOOK not the format.  For me anyway.

I was one of those people for a while. I eschewed the Ebook. Ewww – no one is going to take my books away.  What a twit I was.  Then one March,  my husband was almost jumping out of his skin with excitement for me to open my gift from him (he rocks the house with gift buying – I am lucky). I opened- it was a Nook.  I tried to hide my disappointment. Why would I, a librarian, want an eBook reader? It took me about 15 minutes to fall in love with my Nook. I had INSTANT BOOKS. Oh I was drooling. And the soft eInk was fabulous. I could adjust the text to a larger size… and ya know what I loaded my Nook with? ALL MY FAVORITE BOOKS THAT I HAVE IN PRINT.  Ahhh  – do you know how much easier it is to hold a Nook rather than an 800 page book? MUCH  is the answer. MUCH MUCH MUCH easier.  Now I can get library books quickly – and if I really like the book, I can buy it in print.  I take my eReader with me on vacation and read my print books when my battery is low or when I have it in print only. I can do it all. I didn’t throw out my books and I didn’t stop buying books.  I just have books in both formats.  I have to admit that when I am on a plane, I take both my Nook and the same books in print, because, you know…what if I couldn’t read my nook?  On a plane with no book? THE HORROR! But, again, I digress…

And by the way… No one ever came and took my books away. One doesn’t give way to another. They just co-exist.  Each has their own pros and cons.  I would bet that those with visual impairments had a whole world open up with audio books and eReaders that read aloud in addition to Braille.  As if print works for everyone. It does not. I love print but I don’t value it above the experience of reading a book.

So little bookstore that is trying to survive- what I say to you… take those ugly words off the window.  Open your arms to all customers. No one is asking you to sell eReaders – but don’t put others off because you think you have something to prove. You only hurt yourself when you do.

And that is that ~

Posted in Librarian, Reading | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Bumpy Nubs and Poking Threads: A Guest Post by Karen Perry

This is one of the most moving posts I’ve read. I am so proud to be a part of Karen’s world.

Posted in Humor | 1 Comment

Hiraeth

Thirty nine years later and the memories still come – soft around the edges, filled with warmth and ensconcing me in tendrils of nostalgia.  October.  The month I belong to. The month that signals the end of hot summer days, with a promise of cooler breezes to come.  It is the month in which I miss my childhood the most.  My childhood of green grass, rainy days, pumpkin patches, apple picking, autumn leaves and a feeling that all is right with the world. Through the eyes of a six year old, magic is real and lives on for eternity.  I am grateful for these memories – they make me weepy and nostalgic – but they are worth it. To have lived it, even for a short while, is a far greater thing then to have never lived it at all.  It has taken 35 years for me to appreciate that.

There is a Welsh word I came across in my readings – hiraeth.  It is a perfect word. It has no equivalent in English, but it is defined as such: as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for…the past.   Yes – I understand that. It needs no English equivalent.  Feelings inside are the same across the world, it is only our verbal expressions of them that are different.

Hiraeth. That is what I feel about my years on Long Island – and in October,  those yearnings come fast and strong.  I know I can never go home again, but sometimes, that perfect world seems only a step away. A cross over into a world that exists more in my memory than in reality.

In October I cross over to that world. I am 6 years old – wearing my Raggedy Ann costume (completely plastic and ready to ignite at the drop of a cinder) and a coat, because, well, it’s New York in October.  I’m giddy with excitement because it’s Halloween and all the houses are beautiful.  Lights, decorations, jack-o-lanterns, plans for trick or treating, plans for parties, plans for memories.  I’m on my way to school, barely able to conceal my excitement. We’ll be having a parade and then a party. Then later on, my older brother will take me and my friends out for trick or treating, after we’ve watched “The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. Then he’ll go out with the ‘big kids’ and I’ll answer the door with Mom.

We go from house to house in the dusky twilight – beautiful porches, beautiful trees, beautiful world.  A little trepidation, a little fear in the belly because it is, of course, Halloween. And we have all heard that the strange old man that lives on James Street puts razor blades in his apples.  It doesn’t matter that I don’t know one person that can corroborate that story, but we all know it’s true. We all know it happened to a friend of a friend of a friend, and in our young minds, that’s just as good as it happening to your best friend.  So we tip toe by, ghoulishly watching for any sign of life in the house. A little squeal erupts from us as the porch lights flip on, and the strange old man opens his door with a smile. We walk up the porch steps and look into the bowl he’s holding out, wondering if we should take the apples.  No apples. It’s bubble gum.  We say our lines, take our treats and bound down the steps – off into the night laughing and gearing up for the next house.

That is a perfect world.

Happy October, my friends ~

Posted in Childhood, nostalgia, Random Thoughts, Story | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

I Cannot Become Comfortably Numb

Warning: This is a little disjointed and possibly tangential. Just go with the flow ~ 

Two songs have been rolling around my head these past few weeks.  Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb and Franz Ferdinand’s Well That Was Easy.   In particular, these lines:

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying

…I can’t explain, you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb

And from Franz Ferdinand

Numb, so numb
I’d let your words
Come and come

That imagery of emotional numbness is so strong in both these songs – it speaks to me because for a little while I wanted to feel that. To ignore the emotions and just let the words wash over me – without a second thought.  Say what you will, it matters not.   But that’s not how I am.

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words will also hurt me.

And that’s OK.

Words are powerful. They hold power for me. They always have.  I connect with the world through words and language.  I love words because they affect me so deeply.  They elicit strong emotions – I suspect it is why I love music and stories so much.    It moves me like nothing else – more strongly than visual imagery.  I see the world through words.

So at my core, words are my breath.  Like I said, it is how I relate to the world.  Obviously, it is not how everyone does. But it is how I do.  And it is no better or worse than other ways of relating to the world.  It is not a value that you can give an intrinsic label. It is not ‘bad’. It is not ‘good’.  It just is.

Sometimes words tear me up.  Intentional cruelties.  They rip me apart.

 ‘Grow a thick skin’ 

 ‘Ignore those words’ 

I’ve been advised of this so many times.  They tell me if I’m to become a writer, I have to not be affected by words.  How? Tell me how? I feel them. How do you turn that off?

Here is my fear:  If I turn off those feelings from cruel words; what of all the other feelings from all the other words? What if I lose those feelings?  I can’t risk that.  I will not risk that.  I would rather feel that pain for whatever duration then to thicken my skin and possibly lose the emotions of all words.  I do not want to live my life numb.

This nagging conundrum – I need to write about it. I need words – these words, right here – to begin to change the emotions of words written with careless cruelty.   That is how I can get past this; not turning myself off; but turning myself around.

I cannot help being other than what I am. I open myself up to most people.   And what I mean by that is I talk. A lot.  I know this – I’ve been labeled with most all the adjectives from gregarious to loquacious to chatterbox.  Sometimes it makes me smile and other times it makes me feel embarrassed.  If I’m to be honest, sometimes shamed.

But what I’d like to say about my ‘enthusiastic’ talking is this – I only do so because I want to open myself up to the people around me.  I do so when I feel safe – and that feeling comes all so easily, sometimes too easily so it makes it hard for me to guard myself. And that vulnerability opens me up to be sliced. But there is a reason why I take that risk. More often, it gives me the chance to connect with someone deeply and that connection nourishes my being.  Those experiences are worth more to me than the slice.  So I’ve realized that I need to feel both; the joy and the pain –I have to risk the pain else risk the possibility of losing those nourishing experiences with people.  I accept those consequences.  It doesn’t make the pain any easier, but it makes me know I’m alive.

I will not become comfortably numb.

So those are my words.

Posted in Blogging, Mental Health, Music, Words, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Kickin’ it into Gear

“Obesity”

Ugh – I saw that scary word on the printout of my visit to the doctor this past week. I had turned myself around when being weighed because I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty and I’d refused a scale weigh-in the last three visits. I know – I know – it’s just numbers on the scale. They’ve ruled my life.  I’m healthy and athletic but have the density of a mac truck.  HOWEVER….despite my efforts to ignore the scale number, I was unable to keep it a secret from myself and asked my doc for my weight.  It was an eye opening moment.

Years ago I dropped 60 lbs after my son was born and my weight had sky rocketed along with blood pressure. It was either lose some weight or begin medication at the tender age of 32.  No thank you…  For the first time I lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for years.  And then slowly it has crept back – not all of it; but more of it than I want to admit.

Soooooooooooooooooooooooo  – why am I writing about it in a public forum? Because sometimes that helps me stay on track.  I told my doc that the last time we had this conversation I was able to lose weight; so maybe he’s my ‘magic bullet’.   I have dropped 6 lbs since my visit (but probably only really 3, because, you know – afternoon weighing with clothes vs the morning nude weighing). But I’ll take it!

Some of you already know that I had started a horrible BINGE EATING pattern – you might know the one… waking up at midnight in front of the fridge, eating and not knowing how you got there… or even worse, waking up in the morning and not remembering if you binged the night before only to find wrappers in the garbage.    I’ve not done that in a while and I *suspect* that the reason is that I’ve found some inner peace and allowed up my brain’s creative side to flourish.  It was blindingly obvious to me that binge eating and stuffing myself despite being full was a metaphor – not feeling like I could ‘get enough’ of something, not feeling like my environment was reflecting what I wanted it to…because of so many things – mostly of my own design.   So maybe it was a good thing I saw that word “Obesity” – it kicked me into gear and I feel committed to changing my body in the way that I want it to change.  I don’t care about skinny – I do care about my health.

And my funny note of the day…. my 12 year old son has been under the impression that one of my favorite singers, Mark Mothersbaugh, from DEVO was named Mark Mothersbra.    I think Mark should seriously consider a permanent name change, but it should be spelled thusly: Mother’s-Bra.  I like correct possessive apostrophes and the ‘edgy’ use of a dash.

Ta ta! And happy Friday ~

Posted in Eating, Health, Mental Health, Random Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Whatever you’re “mad for” this week

That phrase keeps running through my mind –  “Whatever you’re ‘mad for’ this week” … six words written in a cruel fashion, meant to tear me down.   It worked. I was torn.  These words were written around March/April in an email sent to me out of the blue- based on a difference of opinion …about the weather of all things – or at least my feelings about weather.  The backstory is completely stupid and inane, yet those words have stopped me cold in my tracks.  I haven’t been able to write anything since then. Not. One. Word.   My book is just sitting there – not being written.

Why did I let those words beat me? I know I’m ultra enthusiastic about anything that excites me at the time.  And I know I flair up bright and then burn out quickly for some things.  But what I didn’t know was that this personality trait is annoying to others – or at least one other.  That kills me inside. I don’t know why, but it does.  So I’ve stopped being outgoing  – and wrapped myself up in self consciousness.  Only to be pulled aside to be questioned if something was ‘wrong’  – and by that very same person.   Why do I let others control me?  WHY?????

It also makes me wonder if it cut me to the bone because it reveals a part of me that I try to keep under wraps…that I secretly am afraid.  Afraid of a lot of things – like success – and the maintenance thereof.  Of relying on myself and my instincts. I defeat myself before I even begin to see the potential.  Why I think I’m not worthy is beyond me at times. Maybe it’s easier to not be good at anything – then there are no expectations to fulfill. Nothing to maintain.

(This is not just a self indulgent rant for a pity party or seeking platitudes of “you’re OK!”)

I’ve been needing to write this out for a while because those words had been killing me inside.   There are now some other ones competing with them.  They come from my husband and his frustration with my non-belief in myself about, well, most everything – including playing bass guitar with him.   He improvised a song called “I’m not worthy” – and when he sang it to me, I was so pissed off I could hardly get my anger out fast enough.  But then I did a little listening to him and let my brain sort it out.  He was right – I made myself believe that I was not worthy to <insert most anything>.   The reasons why don’t matter – I’ve made myself, I can unmake myself.  It’s not just about me now, I have a child that looks to me for guidance and I want him to see his potential. What I say to him matters but what he sees me do matters more.  How can I tell him to trust in his abilities when he sees that I don’t trust in my own?  Why am I letting the opinion of one person, who I feel just does not like me for who I am, paralyze me?  A wise friend of mine told me that friends and those that love you bring out the best in you – not the worst.  I’ve taken that to heart.

I feel like I’ve changed since then.  I play my bass to the best of my ability and no longer whine that I can’t possibly be a musician.  I’ve found a creative side to myself outside of words – and I’ve let it run wild.  I am mad for many things – I do exude a crazy amount of excitement about things at times.  That I won’t change about myself.   I don’t know what will happen with my book – but I do know it’s there waiting for me when I’m ready.

So – that’s that.

Posted in change, coping mechanisms, Family, Secrets | Tagged , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

In an Ironic Twist of Fate – I Eat My Words

I’m very excited this morning – Amazon has just informed me that my oil paint fine tip markers should be arriving today.  Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Yes, in an ironic twist of fate, I posted that I am not artistic and hate ‘doing art’.  I did it right here, posting it for everyone to read (ok, all 45 of you anyway).  So of course, since then, I’ve started ‘doing art’ – making things that look like things that are not things I’d be embarrassed to show as things. It’s all about the things, isn’t it?  I admit it started with some Mod Podge, an old record holder/cabinet and pulp fiction covers.

I'm hooked

I’m hooked

I made it for a friend after seeing something similar at a cool store called Pop-Cycle, which specializes in repurposed art.  I kinda like repurposed art. I won’t use the dreaded word “upcycled” because my friend has threatened bodily harm if I adopt that hipster word. So I shan’t – except now I like to say it to her at any opportunity.  Luckily she can’t harm me through the telephone – she’s across the United States, where it’s safe for me.

Hey Lu –
U
P
C
Y
C
L
E
D

I’m safe until next February when she might be visiting.  Wish me well…

Any who – I love making things.  I don’t know what suddenly turned on in my brain; but it’s quite awesome. I’ll probably never be drawn to drawing (hee hee), and I’ll have to look at other people’s works to get ideas, but it’s a start.  I feel kind of artisan-ish.  I fervently hope I don’t become one of those weird craftsy people who sport vests bedazzled with fake gems and pictures of cats…and if I do anything in gingham, several of my friends have permission to smack me upside the head with a shoe (Karen & Lisa, I’m looking at you).  There’s a fine line between artsy and frumpy-craftsy… that’s a line I hope to never cross.

But in the meantime, I’m going to be making lots of paper flowers, mod podging whatever I can, inking up our stemware with bats, and chalk painting the hell out of our furniture.

You can never go wrong with Morticia

You can never go wrong with Morticia and  black tissue paper flowers

This weekend I’m painting the cabinets with chalkboard paint – and I cannot WAIT.  Mawhahaha –

So I guess I’ll now take “Art Projects for $100, Alex”

Posted in art, change, painting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

I’ll Take Art History for $100, Alex

I should preface this post with: I love art and I love schools that have art classes.  This is a just a little tongue-in-cheek.

The dread comes around 1:45PM Tuesdays and Thursdays. The day was Thursday.  The scene replays vividly in my mind.  I look around the room, most everyone looks a bit on the ‘joyous’ side. Fresh eager faces – sketch pads in hand, pencils at the ready.   In comes the teacher.  Up goes the drop cloth draped over a bumpy mound in the center of the room. A clutter of bicycles and assorted bike parts meets the eye.  We are instructed to draw the  shapes of the ‘negative space’.  Twenty-five minutes in to the exercise we are forced to ‘take a creative break’ –  I took mine in the parking lot, got on my own bike and rode home. Screw Art 100.

I get home, lock up my bike and enter our little shotgun duplex apartment.  My boyfriend looks up at me with eyebrows raised as I throw down my sketch pad in utter disgust and exclaim, “I can’t draw that fucking negative space! I hate art class!” There, I said it. Then I cried. Who cries over drawing the spaces between wheel spokes? Me. That’s who.

It was the first class I’d ever dropped in the sum total of 2 semesters of college that I had under my proverbial belt.  And let me tell you how it felt.  FREAKING’ AWESOME.   I wish I had the wherewithal to stand up during any of the 5 torturous art classes I attended with the words of my son at his 5 year-old birthday party, when he was annoyed that we had to break open a pinata instead of the gifts… “THIS IS A PLACE OF PAIN AND MISERY!”    Yes, art class is a place of pain and misery for me.

I am no artist.  I married one, and almost all of my friends are crazy amazing artists. I’m missing some sort of gene, that’s my best explanation.  I cannot translate what my eyes see or what may be in my mind to anything coherent on a piece of paper…and I’m just fine with that.  I feel a little weird admitting I never really enjoyed art classes – they were filled with frustration, tragedy, and lies.

  • Frustration: not feeling comfortable with the artistic medium we used (from crayons to clay – it all didn’t work for me)
  • Tragedy: the results of my attempts
  • And Lies: from the poor teacher who had to say something positive. You can’t say “well, this one has a gene missing” on a report card.

The Lazy Cowgirls sing it best…

In the days of college I learned something – those who can’t draw negative space take Art History.   We were good friends, Art History and I.  Lectures, viewing art, and writing… I can do that.  I’ll take Art History for $100, Alex.

(Yes, yes – I know many art majors take Art History as part of their requirements….I took it in lieu of Art 100 for my ‘art’ requirement)

Posted in art, Blogging, Humor, quitting, Story | Tagged , , , , , | 37 Comments

Bittersweet

April…
Spring….
Flowers….
Cakes, pies…
and suicide……

April
A bittersweet month – filled with change and firsts.

Change is not my forte. Big change unsettles me. A new co-worker to train; a co-worker of 10 years says good-bye.  Feeling a little weird as the waves settle into a rhythmic pattern and all that has felt strange slowly becomes the norm.

Then the ‘firsts’ – my first charity bake.  Placing first – a very happy moment.  It helps to keep the sadness of another first at bay.
Death.  The biggest change of them all.

And not just life ending – but suicide.  That’s a first for me.  I hope there’s never a second. It’s not something I want to get used to; I can’t image anyone “gets used to” suicide.  It’s horrible. There’s no argument about it. No debate – no philosophic angle to expound upon.  Death. Done. End.

My neighbor of 19 years committed suicide on Maundy Thursday.  She was 49.  Fifty seemed too much and in the midst of good things happening; she couldn’t hang on.  Leaving on a high note – Ok.  Maybe.  I don’t know. I’m not judging.  I’m just sad.

I miss her every day – she wasn’t my closest or best friend  but she was part of my every day life. Our driveways were ‘kissing cousins’ and we were always gabbing over the wall. Trading this or that. She was close to my son as he grew up – she was a dynamic elementary teacher and artist.  I can not even count how many times I made dinner for two and my little son would bring over his special plate and they’d have a ‘dinner’ date.  She drove me crazy sometimes too – but that’s how it is with people in your life.  But she’s gone now.  The empty driveway –  “Melissa’s Art Room” in letters on the side door to her sun room (she taught art to little random-shrieking girls on Saturdays) – I see it every day.  Sometimes it’s OK – sometimes it’s less OK.

We had a little gathering for her last night.  Good Bye, Melissa.  I miss you – even your crazy stuff I miss.  Nineteen years.  Poof…done. Changed.

She tasted my test pie for the charity bake.  But she wasn’t there for Easter leftovers.  Thursday she was dead, I didn’t know…my world was the same.  Good Friday – 7:30AM…the knowledge came and life turned upside down.  It’s so odd how much ‘knowing’ makes a difference.  I can see why ignorance is bliss.  I didn’t want to have to tell my son – shatter his innocence with explanations of suicide. Death is hard; suicide is – well it’s something else.   I was angry with her – but not anymore. I can understand, just a tiny bit from my own experience, that desperation.  I hope she found peace.

This is really kind of rambling – and there’s no end game  – it just is.

Melissa is gone.
That is all.

Oscar Night for Melissa - and her date Dorian

Oscar Night for Melissa – and her date Dorian

Posted in change, death, grief | Tagged , , , , | 40 Comments