Archive for December, 2009

Here we go again

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Another new year is upon us. At least in a calendar sense. I suppose in a way there’s always some new start right around the corner or inherent in a moment: Chinese New Year, a birthday, an anniversary, or just some arbitrary stake in the ground. But I suppose that’s why we note this: Because outside forces plant the stake in the ground and thus it’s easier to accept as a ‘new beginning’ and perhaps make a pledge to change everything or do one thing different starting tomorrow?

As for me, I’m starting 2010 an inch shorter.

Tee hee.

This is not by choice, and more of an observation.

I swear in high school I was 5′ 6.5″

Now, courtesy of a physical last week, I’ve learned that I am, in fact, 5′ 5.5″.

I have no idea how that happened, and I’m none too happy about it. My  mother claims to be 5’4″, and I’ve got bad news for her: There’s no goddamned way. If I’m five five and a half, she’s…well, she should study up on some pictures of us and do the math. We’re all shrinking, it would seem.

Have you heard this stuff that the universe is expanding?

Or vibrating at a faster rate?
Maybe that’s all it is?

I’m not an inch shorter, it’s just that the universe is bigger than it was in 1991.

Muse on that one for a minute kids…

Moving right along, all in all, 2009 was not my best year. Not the best, not the worst. Maybe in the annals of history it will be looked back on as a placeholder for the best year ever? That would be nice. I’m up for a ‘best year ever’. One of those years where you keep thinking, “This is the best <<<FILL IN THE BLANK>>> ever!!!”

As it were, I wrote two books, made zero money, took some regrettable trips and a couple good ones, stayed healthy and maintained my weight, ate a lot of oysters, met Dave Attell, had my dog’s stomach pumped three times, learned to do hypnotherapy, lost a great cat (Siddhartha) and found a new one (Fu Manchu). And, in turn, from Fu I have learned that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a bathrobe is a cat teat. Fu has an oral fixation. If you didn’t already know this, well…now you do.

As for 2010, well, I’m quite hopeful. I am a big planner and list-maker (and generally pretty successful at checking stuff off. Not always on the timeline I hoped for nor the results I dream of, but I get there – or somewhere – eventually.) so perhaps - if you’re very good –  I’ll share my resolutions (goals more than anything) with you tomorrow.

Happy New Year Everybody!

In the meantime, my Yahoo account shared with me its predictions for me and everyone else born between September 24 and October 23, and it’s a little bit sobering, but mostly hopeful…kinda like me as of late.

Year 2010 Overview

The symbol for Libra is Balance. In the next year, you’ll find yourself doing even more balancing than usual; you’re going to be pressed to decide if your internal sense of happiness should be the focus of life more than the outward signs of success. This may have been weighing heavily on your mind for the last several months, as far as work and the state of your love life. What you are likely to be weighing this year is a little more intangible (and a little more important) than those things. Specifically, in 2010 you’ll find yourself weighing out the cost of the connections you’ve formed for yourself versus their actual value to you.

There’s going to be a lot of pressure on you from within and without as to who you really are at heart and who you really are to those closest to you. This will be both in your personal life and at work. The natural Libra impulse is often to make peace with these kind of pressures, or negotiate your way around them. Your best bet in the next year though will be to recognize your own inherent value — not just what you appear to be worth to others.

In the final analysis this is all good news, even if it’s good news in disguise. No one is better than you at beautifying things or finding the inherent beauty in the mundane. Once you realize that you yourself are at least as shiny and pretty as any accessory — in your heart and soul, where beauty really counts — you’ll have begun assembling a better You. Breathe through the difficult spots, and enjoy the results!

Year 2010 Career

The last year has probably presented more frustrations than triumphs in the work and money departments for you. Thankfully, it all turns around this year! There will be two eclipses — one in January and one in July — that will shake loose the situations you’ve been dealing with for a while now. In January, an eclipse in your Career House will make for distinct changes at your place of work. At first this change may be a cause for some concern: an increase in responsibilities, for example. Don’t worry, you can handle it. You’ll have the opportunity to show off your skills in new ways that are more likely to garner attention.

The second eclipse will finish the course set by the first one, and will likely propel you into a new job or a new position of prominence in the old one. Although these developments may come as a surprise to you, in hindsight they will have been a result of events that have been brewing for a while. If you think about where your work life has been the last couple of years, it’s obvious that some kind of change was called for, even if it isn’t immediately obvious.

As far as actual cash on hand, although it isn’t likely there will be any windfalls or lottery wins, there will be a distinct sense of improvement developing gradually over time. June through August will show some distinct improvements.

I have a hard time believing that some high-level predictions for a roughly 10% of the population will be dead on, but I’m okay with distinct improvements and good news. And when in doubt, I think Yahoo has managed to offer up some salient advice for us all: Breathe through the difficult spots.

So here’s to 2010 and big hopes and dreams and goals and resolutions and everything else.

I wish the very best for each of you.

Happy New Year!

May 2010 treat you kindly.

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It can’t all be sunshine

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

And despite the sunshine outside, today feels like a day without any.

So yesterday I was at my friend’s house, waiting to see if she would wake up.

She never did.

I talked to her for a while and her breathing changed and quickened as I told her about my day and a dream I had about us, and how I would be back again tomorrow or the next day. I think that she could hear me.

I know that people’s subconscious is fully alert while under anesthesia, and at this point the brain tumor inside her is probably a bit like that.

After a while, I kissed her cheek and then went and sat in the family room down the hall. I noticed and began thumbing through a book on Iceland that I imagine was given to her – or at least intended for her – a couple days ago on Christmas. There’s a whole complex and rather tragic story around Iceland (and she is the reason I went there myself in August 2008), but it doesn’t seem appropriate to go into that here.

At any rate, the only thing I really wanted to post was this passage that I found in that book. It was mostly a coffee table book of gorgeous photos of flowing lava or glaciers or vast expanses, but was littered with a small quote every dozen or so pages.

This particular one hit me hard. It strikes me as powerful and painful and uplifting and emotional and beautiful and impossibly sad all at the same time, which I guess is pretty much exactly how I would summarize the last three months:

I am the abyss

That protects the precious pearls

You dreamt of having.

-Steinn Steinar

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Twelve Drummers Drumming

Friday, December 25th, 2009

So last night around 11:00 p.m. after sharing a spectacular dinner of raw oysters, grilled oysters, beer battered cod, grilled salmon and crab bisque (a seafood extravaganza!! There was some rice and creamed spinach, too, because you have to have balance) with some dear friends, I was sitting on my couch surrounded by said friends. And we were all appreciating that it was rather late, and I suddenly had four very clear realizations:

1. No gifts will be wrapped tonight. I wrap like a monkey on the best of days, and this wasn’t even that.

2. There will not be a timely final ’12 Days of Christmas’ blog post.

3. I have wonderful friends.

4. I am drunk as hell.

So there you have it.

And Merry Christmas.

Enjoy your twelve drummers drumming. With any luck, they’re those monkey cymbal toy drummers and you can throw them in the garage and drive over them with your car when you’ve had enough. And if they’re not – like if they’re real drummers – might I suggest Rohypnol in some eggnog?

Otherwise, I am freaking tired from all this blogging, so enjoy some holiday photos while you wait. Before you know it, I’ll be back to discuss New Year’s Eve and all kinds of grandiose plans for 2010. Let’s muse about what could be…

Until then, Merry Christmas!!!  Happy Hanukkah!!! Happy Kwanzaa!!!

Joy to the World!

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Eleven Pipers Piping

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

I may very well stand corrected.
Cirque du Soleil is super weak…but bagpipes are worse.

I speak from experience.

This is very authentic-ish. I'm just glad I can't hear it.

As you may recall, when I first arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland in August of 2008, I spotted a man playing bagpipes in a park, and it was quaint, if not downright bewitching.

How quickly reality comes crashing in…

Two days later in Glasgow there was some kind of bagpiper invasion going on, and everywhere you turn…screeching, screaming noise. Because it is just noise. I know why the Loch Ness monster stays underwater and out of sight: To avoid the bagpipe noise.  The first time it’s charming, and every subsequent time it destroys a little bit of your soul.

Or maybe I’m all wrong in my diatribe against bagpipes?

Or maybe I’m not wrong, but looking for a smooth way to transition and not finding one.

How about this?: Maybe by ‘pipers’ they mean flautists? Which is still really sad, but maybe not quite so sad.

But while we’re on the subject, let me paint you a really sad piper piping image: Imagine an awkward and fantasy-prone nine-year old girl who really, really, REALLY wanted to play the cello. In fourth grade they brought in adults to demonstrate their considerable talents and get the kids hooked on the joy of instrument mastery. It was a hard sell. The lady who played the cello played the Star Wars theme and, well, does there really need to be anything else? SHE PLAYED THE STAR WARS THEME ON THE CELLO.

What was I supposed to do? It was Stars Wars. STAR WARS.

So this poor, sad girl ran to her mother with the information and begged for permission to play the cello…but was told it was too damn expensive to rent and forget about it.

So next year, in fifth grade, they bring the band instruments and they’re all clearly nerdy and vaguely threatening that “if you pick me, some day will either need to abandon me or you will find yourself marching around a football field like a jackass wearing a 18-pound hat.” But she didn’t heed the warnings and reluctantly settled for the flute.

And I know you might find this shocking, but that girl was me.

And yes, the minute I realized they expected me to march around dressed like an escaped member of Sargaent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band while cool kids sat in the stands or were cheerleaders…well, I dropped that flute like a hot potato. But that’s another story for another day.

In the years before that, I did play (or pipe, as it were) the flute, and I have this semi-tragic memory that is only fitting on Christmas Eve Eve, just minutes from Christmas Eve itself: About ten houses away lived a girl my same age – let’s call her J – and we were super close. J did not play an instrument, but she fancied herself a singer, and I – never being one to shy away from sharing my talents – offered to accompany her.

Actually, he looks less bad than I remembered. These were the days before Mrs. Doubtfire. Clearly we didn't know what bad was.

So the really pathetic memory involves me and J sitting in her room MORE THAN ONCE, while I earnestly played “It Might Be You” (Yes, the theme from “Tootsie”. Cringe as you see fit. And seriously, Dustin Hoffman made a horrible-looking woman. Even I knew that at nine years old.), and J sang the lyrics with some slight modification. We were horribly embarassed by the line “and we’ve so much love to make” so we changed it to “and there’s so many cakes to bake.”

That aside, it must have sounded like two cats dying. I shudder at the mere recollection…

Now imagine that and imagine it times eleven, and you’ll fully grasp the horror of eleven pipers piping. True love, my ass.

Time…

I’ve been passing time watching trains go by

All of my life…

Lying on the sand, watching seabirds fly

Wishing there would be

Someone waiting home for me…


Something’s telling me it might be you

It’s telling me it might be you…

All of my life…


Looking back

as lovers go walking past…

All of my life

Wondering how they met and what makes it last

If I found the place

Would I recognize the face?


Something’s telling me it might be you

Yeah, it’s telling me it might be you


So many quiet walks to take

So many dreams to wake

And we’ve so much love to make


I think we’re gonna need some time

Maybe all we need is time…

And it’s telling me it might be you

All of my life…


I’ve been saving love songs and lullabies

And there’s so much more

No one’s ever heard before…


Something’s telling me it might be you

Yeah, it’s telling me it must be you

And I’m feeling it’ll just be you

All of my life…


It’s you…

It’s you…

I’ve been waiting for

all of my life…


Maybe it’s you…

Maybe it’s you…

I’ve been waiting for

all of my life…


Maybe it’s you…

Maybe it’s you…

I’ve been waiting for

all of my life…

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Ten Lords a-Leaping

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

This has got to be the worst gift of all.

Ten lords a-leaping?
What the hell do you do with that?

What does it even mean?

Is that like Cirque du Soleil tickets or something?

This is not my dog, but it could be. I'll try to get a photo of his leaping when I get home today...and hopefully not one of him knocking my mother to the ground.

This is not Dozer, but it could be.

Actually, and this just occurs to me now, it could be the most harrowing ‘gift’ of all: Wokini’s Lord Dozer a-leaping and a-clawing and a-bruising the crapola out of your thighs.

Once in a while I’ll have a wallop of a bruise on my legs. And butt. And stomach. And arm.

And the well-intentioned massage therapist/chiropractor/concerned friend who sees it will invariably question what kind of tragedy has befallen me or dark secret I’m keeping or just give me a sad and knowing look.

And that’s when it’s time to admit the hard truth: I am in a domestic violence situation with my dog.

It’s true.

This makes me laugh. I was looking for pictures of Malamutes leaping in the air, but this is funnier.

This makes me laugh. And feel better about my own counter surfing menace. I was looking for images of Malamutes leaping in the air, but this is even better.

When I get home after a two hour or (god help me) two week or (god help us all) two month absence, the Alaskan Malamute official registered with the American Kennel Club as “Wokini’s Lord Dozer” goes fucking nuts and leaps and pirouettes and surges and vaults and ricochets off the soft substance formerly known as my flesh, leaving deep gashes of joy.

Thus, I’ll be frank and say that the combination of the words ‘leap’ and ‘Lord’ leaves me a bit shaky and wanting for shin guards and other protective gear.

And slightly dreading tonight’s late-night arrival back home.

I can almost feel the bruise starting to form…

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