Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review


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New year, new books, and a 30 before 30 plan

I don't so much do the New Year's resolution thing, but I figure my 30 before 30 list kind of covers it for me this year.

My dad gave me a rack of books I haven't read after seeing my previous posts on books. So. With those in mind, in addition to suggestions from others, my SIX books to read over the next 14 months are:
  1. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (thanks, Char!)
  2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (thanks, Pop!)
  3. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (thanks, Nicole!)
  4. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (thanks, Pop!)
  5. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (thanks, Leslie!)
  6. The Inferno by Dante (thanks, Pop!)
I'll post review of the book after I've finished each one.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday Recap: The one in which I refer to a few Awkward Family Moments

References to AFM = Awkward Family Moment.

12/23
Drive to Richmond takes 3:35 hrs, can't see out the back window since we've used every inch of space in the wagon. Standing in the kitchen, Alivia comes running out from wherever she is, stops right in front of me, grins and puts her arms up for a hug. Luvz!

12/24
Present day in my family. Lance and I make Oreo Brownie Bites... YUM! (umm, I can't remember which blog I saw this on... basically, you take Oreos (we used mint) and dip them in brownie mix, then cook them for 10 minutes in muffin tins... wow!) Delicious ham dinner, do the dishes, then to the living room where dad reads his story about Mrs. Claus saving Christmas (she does it again!). Alivia decides to put a basket on her head.


Can we start?


Presents!




She likes to help.


Aww.


12/25
Hanging out and playing with the new toys. Singing about Santa and the Beatles with Lance at the piano and Eric at guitar. Alivia gets naked and eats cheese.


Chinese takeout for dinner. Too many calories today! Snow starts to fall. Vicki (family dog) can't stop bothering Ramona.

AFM.

12/26
Take time waking up. Discuss going home and waiting till morning to drive to NY. Decide to just drive. Richmond to Baltimore takes less than 3 hours. Switch drivers, fall asleep, wake up in New Jersey to snow. And snow. And snow. On the 60-mile stretch of the NJ Turnpike for 6 hours. STRESS. Ramona does great. I couldn't find a decent video or picture of the turnpike that evening, but this maybe gives you an idea?


Give up fighting and decide to call it a night. First hotel won't take dogs but sends us to one that will. Collapse into bed at 12:30am.

12/27
Wake up to find that Ramona made herself comfortable.


Free buffet breakfast, pay the bill, then head to Woodstock. Arrive around 2pm and relax before more present time. Spend the evening playing with my new NOOKcolor. Yay!


12/28
Ramona decides she needs cuddles and crawls into bed with us. How could I kick her out? We're on vacation, so I let it slide :) Ignore Eric's big bum. It's the angle, I swear :)


It's cold.


Stop taking pictures of me and get me inside!


Some organic shopping in Kingston. Pick up some amazing tea blends. Lose a brother for a bit.

AFM.

Fancy Italian for dinner.

AFM.

Home late, then bed.

12/29
Pack up the car. Reassure Ramona that we won't leave her behind. Confusion and miscommunication ensues re: travel plans.

MAJOR AFM.

We skedaddle to avoid more drama. Traffic on the NJ Turnpike (go figure). Let me out of this goddamn state! Into Delaware at last. A couple of rest stops and 7 hours later, we're home. Unload the car. Pooped.


Hope you're enjoying plenty of your own AFMs!! Luvs to you as the year closes out :)

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Friday, December 24, 2010

On this Night Before Christmas...

From 39 Degrees North, a Beijing motion graphics studio, the sad, dark tale of Christmas, by Neil Gaiman. The text (excerpted from Smoke & Mirrors by Neil Gaiman) appears below the video. Enjoy...........

Nicholas Was...


older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die.


The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in their own, twittering tongue, conducted incomprehensible rituals, when they were not actually working in the factories.


Once every year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night. During the journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves' invisible gifts by its bedside. The children slept, frozen into time.


He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas. His punishment was harsher.


Ho.


Ho.


Ho. 

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Festivus!!

And you know what that means!! Time for the annual "Airing of the Grievances."

  1. Most of my kids this year SUCK and have rocks for brains.
  2. My greyhound eats anything that is left out in the open, even if we're only gone for a few minutes.
  3. We got our security system installed by some other company, even though I thought it was ADT and we're serviced by ADT, and that was a bad choice.
  4. The American people have such a short memory that they already restocked Congress with Repubs.
  5. My meds aren't quite working right.
  6. My husband had three major car incidents this year.
  7. Most of my clothes are too big for me (I had to sneak in something good!)
  8. Winter break is only a week and a half long.
  9. I didn't go to the beach once.
  10. Nor did I vacation anywhere.
  11. Delicious foods are not good for me.
  12. My porch is messy.
  13. Snow has to be shoveled.
  14. We're still working on paying off all of our wedding bills.
You?


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

I def did not stay up to watch the lunar eclipse... plus, it turns out it was super cloudy, anyway.

But that doesn't mean that about a gazillion other people with video cameras and lots-o-time didn't! Here's a pretty good time-lapse of the eclipse... fascinating!


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Goats

I fantasize about someday living in a small, liberal, new England town with my husband, my greyhounds, and some goats.


Why goats? I don't know. I just think they're really cute. And they make delicious cheese! Plus, I hear they're super-affectionate and lovey.


Maybe just indulge me with a share of a goat?

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winter edition

We had our first snow on Thursday. Not enough to cancel school (or even give us a two-hour delay!), but fun, nonetheless. It inspired me to resurrect this hilarious video of Ramona's first ever experience with snow last winter:



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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thinking on death

Yesterday, my husband and I attended a funeral for the wife of a childhood friend of his. She's younger than me... she's younger than my younger sister. They have a 4-mo-old baby. She had a difficult pregnancy and was afraid to be left alone with the baby. She killed herself.

This alone raises all kinds of emotions in me. How much anger Eric's friend must be feeling. The fear, the shock, and anguish. And the child... how do you teach your son why he doesn't know his mother?

But the funeral.

It was held at a small town church that's probably been there for a hundred years. There was no viewing or graveside service, just the eulogies and sermons, hymns, prayers, and Bible passages.

Now, this is where my mind starts to go in twelve different directions, so excuse the ramblings that may ensue.

It's been over seven years since I left religion behind me. I haven't had to deal with a lot of death in my life. I went to a total of two funerals growing up and three since I met Eric. The first two were parents of friends of mine; the last were a premature baby, Eric's great-aunt, and this man's wife. I had no opportunity to attend funerals for the two deaths that mattered the most to me - my college friend Shane and my Dutch grandfather. Maybe this would feel different if more people I loved were gone?

The hymns, and the prayers, and the verse, and the talk of heaven and happiness and till we meet again, I mean.

It just feels like you're not dealing with the death. It's like a sad denial. And it doesn't seem healthy or fair to me. How do I explain? I need closure, I need to grieve, to be angry and hurt and broken. Otherwise, I just don't think I'd be able to ever really put myself back together. I understand that people like to think that death isn't really the end, that you'll see your loved ones again, that they're up in heaven hugging Jesus right now. I get that it's comforting to people. I just don't get why. You have to allow yourself to grieve!

See, to me, being told these lines about someone I care about doesn't feel fair. Ugh, I feel all tangled up right now, like I'm not doing a very good job of explaining myself.

To me, these thoughts about an afterlife aren't reassuring, they just make me feel worse. Hopeful... setting myself up for disappointment, unable to really let go and heal... depressing... wondering why you are happily in heaven dancing with angels while I am here, going through so much pain. So much suffering. Without a comforting word from you. Because you're not there anymore, but then they say maybe you are, so why are you doing this to me, this torture? Why don't you care enough to make me feel better?

Yes?

I feel that the finality of separation is ultimately easier to deal with. Agony, yes. Wanting to see you again but knowing I never will. I can work through that, I can be okay again. But this hope that we'll be together again... doesn't that just make life harder?

I don't want to be remembered with a funeral. I don't want my lifeless corpse put on display and then buried underground. Cremate me and share me with the wind. Celebrate our memories and dance out your pain. Scream and laugh and cry. FEEL SOMETHING. And then let me go. Live.
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Monday, December 06, 2010

Now that you mention books

I've been working on continuing my 30 before 30 list. I have 20 on there now, and only one actually completed! It's okay, I still have 15 months....

So, after all this talk of books, I got to thinking. I wanted to add a book goal to my list, but I couldn't think of any book/genre/etc. I wanted to focus on.

THEREFORE. I decided that I want to read SIX books recommended to me by other people. Even if that book is completely out of my normal repertoire or reading material. Why six? Well, that's the first number that came to me, so, why not?

OK. I want to know what YOU think is the absolute, bestest, most recommendable book I should read before I turn 30.

Ready, set, GO!
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Presents!



In Holland, Sinterklaas Eve is celebrated on December 5. I grew up always getting a little present in my shoes from him, so Eric and I continue the tradition, albeit generally sans shoes.

We had the same thoughts this time! I gave him a cute "Life is Greyt" mug,

and he gave me a photo book called Greyhounds big and small: iggies & greyts.


Wow!

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