Sunday, November 30, 2008

it's official....

as is becoming my new tradition, today was spent (with salimah's much-needed help) setting up my christmas tree. candles are strategically placed around the living and dining rooms, stocking hung on the wall, and all is magically aglow.



see what i mean? oh, and here's a close-up of one of my favorite ornaments....


i promise i'll try to post more pictures in the coming weeks. i'm trying to be better about all of that. in the meantime, i have two papers to write this evening. boo. hiss!

welcome, christmastide. it took you long enough to get here!!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

thanksgiving antics

the turkey day holiday was very relaxing, as it turned out, and a good time was had by all (i can hear my high school principal saying that over the loudspeaker in my head as i type this; it was his favorite way of summarizing school events). i can show you pics of the cheese plate...okay, fine. here it is:


see that brownish triangle around 1:00? sticky toffee cheese. yeah, you read it right. so delicious!

anyway, enough cheese. aside from being thankful that we were all together (me, salimah, her two sisters, her mom, her mom's friend, and babygirl), there was much laughter and making of merry. and as part of the usual theatrics, i present to you, caryl and the lovely miss baby g herself:




thanksgiving antics from shrub775 on Vimeo.

happy belated thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

that's it

i officially hate school.

okay. i don't 100% hate it, but i have a freaking paper due on thanksgiving day, and it's 1:40 in the morning and i just finished another stupid assignment. and i'm exhausted. and i didn't eat dinner tonight, which means i'm now hungry and very thirsty and whinewhinewhine!!!

also, i'm extremely congested and i hope i'm not coming down with something. i can't handle that. i mean it.

did you hear me?

okay, enough complaining. i'm getting some water and then off to bed.

*sob*

Saturday, November 22, 2008

'hang all the mistletoe; i wanna get to know you better....'

yesterday we had the first snow of the season. it spent a good portion of the day flurrying and/or really coming down in various parts, much of which i could see from the window of my office building. the city looks so beautiful in the snow. i seriously wished in that moment that i had my camera.

this week was rough for me. i'm feeling really run down (what else is new?) and it's just been very, very hard to motivate myself to get anything done once i come home from work. i'm looking forward to the short work week ahead but not to the papers i have to write. the one downside to this graduate program is that (along with my lack of free time) there are no breaks for major or minor holidays. just keep on trucking, even on turkey day.

tonight the apartment is quiet. i spent the afternoon snuggling under blankets, catching up on some tv, and napping on and off. i don't know how late i'll be staying up tonight, but of course tomorrow brings with it another paper due and another week to gear myself up for. july better come soon. thats all i'm saying about that.

on one final note, as part of my tv time this afternoon, i watched the movie 'this christmas' (salimah had recommended). i loved it. those family, homey-type movies always put me in the holiday mood. christmas is just over a month away. let the ho-ho-ho begin:)....

Monday, November 17, 2008

'never find a love like this....'

tonight i am missing my grandfather more than i can express in words. i feel that subtle ache in my throat from the sadness that wants to come out but cannot. there is no room, you see. i have much to do before bedtime. in the background, my cable is playing one 'adult alternative' hit after another...some slightly upbeat, some melancholy, some filled with aching hope. i'm down the hall chatting on IM, cleaning up my desk, and trying to create some semblance of order before i hit the hay (cleaning lady comes tomorrow). i already checked in with my bff, my mom, and my work e-mail (check, check, check), and i'm longing for the quiet of an empty room and the white noise of a fan to drown my thoughts about tomorrow and all of its worries.

last night, my mom was sewing and i was in the living room doing work, and it hit me so heavily. mom, i miss grandpa, i said.

i know, she said, i miss him, too. every day.

every day. yeah, that about sums it up. it's been almost 15 years since he died, and there isn't one day that goes by that something doesn't stir up his voice, his spirit, his ways of answering questions, his quiet knowing. these days i look for glimpses of him in every man i meet. most don't possess even a shade, but there are some...a few...whose character and very essence hearken back to a time before they crossed my path...to a person they've never met and, on this earth, never will.

when my grandfather was a young man and not long married, he had to go overseas in WWII. during that time, he wrote my grandmother letters (letters i knew nothing about until after she died five summers ago) telling her of his days and instructing her to watch this or that aspect of her health and the health of their young daughter (my mother). amidst the medical advice (he was a doctor, after all), you could sense his love for her and his longing to be back with her. and as an old man, there was never any question that she had been his love all those years. through their arguing and sometimes even yelling (conversations, they called them), he looked at her with the kind of certainty that bespeaks something so much deeper than movie screen love affairs and flowery poetry. it was the kind of love that had seen war and death, birth, blood, sickness, hard financial times, difficult relational times, children, and the putting of hands to a plow (or hammer, or stethoscope) to put in an honest day's work—side by side. it was a love that never gave up, never walked out, and never needed proving with empty words and meaningless tokens.

it was a love that spilled over into four children, six grandchildren, and hundreds of devoted family and friends. it was a love that changed my little kid heart every time he held me tight, called me sweetheart, or asked me to sing him a song.

every day. yes. every. single. day. i still feel that love. i still miss it. i want it again. and obviously, though it won't be the same (nor should it), it will echo of times past. of honor and forbearance. of believing in someone's dreams and promises and hopes. of wanting the best and laying down your life for that to happen. of knowing what you want and never, ever letting it go.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

herculean

this weekend has been packed. my mom came to visit me and we have been doing chores nonstop. let me recap:

friday
arrival. chicken parm. hot cocoa and '27 dresses.' hung out until midnight or so. collapse.

saturday
slept in a bit. breakfast/shower. errand running (wine store, drugstore, jo-ann fabrics, trader joe's). lunch out (flying avocado cafe - LOVE). prepping pants for hemming. stuffed chix breasts for dinner. hot cocoa and 'ratatouille.' early to bed.

sunday
early to rise (mom had been up for hours). cutting patterns for quilted appliance covers. lunch at mari luna with salimah. starbucks. four hours of closet cleaning (looks amazing). four bags of stuff for goodwill. four bags of trash. hot shower. more hemming. bread, cheese, and english breakfast tea for dinner. computer work to prep for tomorrow. sleeeeeepy.

my mom is a champion, plain and simple. she's so generous and helpful with her time and talents. my closet was in desperate need of organization and cleaning and she got me three tubs (two hold purses and one holds photos) and several garment bags and covers. so now all my clothes are protected from dust and tucked away in their proper places. and my cleaning lady comes on tuesday to deal with the rest of the dust and grime. what a relief!

tonight i will sleep like a log. this past week was rough and the one coming up promises more long days and late nights. i'm grateful for exhaustion like this, because it means that i did something worthwhile with my time, and i'm one step farther along in the process of having a more orderly life.

oh, and as a side note: my mom found a 9 of spades behind something in my closet and said to me with concern, 'i hate to tell you this, but you haven't been playing with a full deck.'

ain't that the truth....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

worn thin

i'm having one of those weeks where i cannot even envision making it to friday. no, nothing's wrong, per se, but i'm just so inundated with 'stuff' to do and i just want to sleep. tonight i was at the office until 8:30 finishing up some things for work and then writing the equivalent of a 3-page paper in about 30 minutes' time. thank God i can put words on a page rather quickly; i honestly wouldn't be making it through grad school right now otherwise.

what makes me feel a tad bit sick to my stomach right now is the understanding that even though the thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching, there is no rest for the weary. i will probably spend the night much the same as last year: spending a tiny bit of time relaxing with friends and then writing a paper until the wee hours of the morning. the thought of this makes me want to cry.

okay, there. i got it out. now i'm going to watch some DVR'ed cooking shows, put my feet up, rehydrate, and call it a night.

Friday, November 07, 2008

all right, look

i'm just going to say this one time, because i don't want to waste the opportunity to catalog the goings-on of the world in this space.

i'm a conservative, okay? like, really. and for the last several months, in particular, i've been on the receiving end of a lot of crap from other people about how that somehow 'means' something about me and the way i feel about others. well, it means a lot of things, but none of them include that i'm stupid, naive, bigoted, and a hater of women, racial minorities, and other groups. may i remind the gentle reader that i am, in fact, a woman? and i like us just fine, thank you. :)

i'm saying all of this because i am one of the few million who did not 'barack the vote' during this election. and believe you me, i struggled with it. i struggled because john mccain isn't really that conservative and i really wouldn't have chosen him as my candidate (nor did i in the primaries), and voting for barack obama - for me - would have been more of a social statement than a political one. and i nearly did - for that reason alone. i nearly, nearly did.

in the months up to the election, salimah and i had many a tense conversation about the candidates. she was so passionately pro-obama and i was so passionately anti a lot of his policies (primarily economic ones). but her passion runs so much deeper than politics, policies, and elections. it draws from a deep and abiding wound that exists in the hearts of so many people in this country for centuries of injustice, hatred, anger, and the feeling of being mocked, cast aside, and placed forever in a position of 'less than' just because of the color of one's skin. but it's not just the wound, either. it's the hope of healing that wound....the hope that all the bullshit (yeah, i said it) might actually be proven false one day; it's the awareness that at some point, the white supremacists, the 'good ol' boy network', and even those of us in suburban america who harbor racist attitudes (and there are many of us, whether we know it or not) will have to acknowledge that ALL PEOPLE REALLY ARE CREATED EQUAL - and not just as a statement on a piece of paper signed by some white men hundreds of years ago.

it was for THIS reason that i nearly voted for obama. but i didn't. i didn't because at the end of the day, i still believe in other things, too, and i made my decision - even though it was a difficult one - based on where i thought this country needed to head in order to get out of this mess we're in. obviously, my choice didn't make it into the top seat, but i'm glad and really grateful that so many people all over this country shared their opinions, got involved, got inspired, and got behind the candidate they wanted.

when barack gave his acceptance speech on tuesday night, he made mention of all those people whose support he has yet to earn (and in that statement, i hope that i heard a desire to earn that support in the coming months and years). i'm glad he feels that he's my president, too. he's got a lot of hard work ahead of him - that's for sure. but with all that he will have to accomplish, there is one HUGE hurdle he has already crossed. and for that - regardless of policies or party - my heart is overjoyed.

salimah, you are NEVER going to the back of the bus in this country again. and by God's grace, no one else ever will.

Monday, November 03, 2008

soundtrack for autumn 2008

i started a new mix the week before last. it's 63 songs that conjure up fall for me....in all its yearning and wonder and worry....the gearing up for a season of desolation followed by the promise of something new. it is the turning inward, the time to make a nest, the months of bearing up under the coming cold and wind. fall makes me remember the strength that winter requires. 
 
my heart is a bit heavy today...lots going on inside me but none of it worth mentioning here, really. what i continue to find remarkable is how everything just keeps moving along its trajectory. even looking at the trees, the brilliant reds and yellows are undaunted by indian summers. roads fill with cars in the mornings and evenings as people go to work and home, even as small tragedies grind some other people's lives to a halt. people...and life...keep moving ALL. THE. TIME. no matter what. and though i know that this is the way it must (and probably should) be, sometimes i wish for a moment that i could hold the progress at bay for awhile....perhaps encourage all of life to just take a nap (or a load off) for a few...think about what really matters and get back that sense of focus and calm. (calm? what is that?)
 
in my ears, someone's voice breaks on a note and everything inside of me stirs, then relaxes. keep singing, i think. winter's coming in more ways than one.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

from brie to tater tots: one week later

last saturday night, salimah hosted a game night at her apartment and a small group of us gathered to eat hors d'oeuvres and make merry. because there were only 6 of us, we huddled around her small dining room table and feasted on crab rangoon, brie with gingersnaps and dark cherry butter, mini quiche, and shrimp with cocktail sauce. since none of us had eaten dinner beforehand, we descended on the snacks and devoured them in no time at all. by the time we had settled into a rousing game of apples to apples, the second round of food came out: this time, buffalo chicken fingers and tater tots. i know. first, brie with gingersnaps and chi-chi preserves and then tater tots. but you know what? they were the HIT of the night (all thanks to salimah's sister, c, who insisted that everyone would love them - she was right!). as we nibbled on the crispy potato nuggets (with ketchup, of course!), we reminisced about fish sticks and childhood before retiring to the living room for a brief but rousing conversation about politics.

honestly, it was just a lovely way to spend an evening and i hope we can have a repeat performance in the not-too-distant future. readers take note: when you're planning a get-together, let this be a note to the wise that even the most 'foodie' grown-ups still love a tater tot. maybe even more than mini quiche!