Monday, November 28, 2005

That's just how we roll

The following greeted me when I opened my mail this morning:

Our love began with a glance across a parking lot.
You possessed me in just a few days.
I remember long drives through the countryside,
And long weekend getaways.

But the years passes, and like upholstery in the hot sun,
youl love began to fade.
And now in a time when I need your care the most,
You hit the blinker and turn away.

And while our gas tank of love may be running on fumes,
We need not go through this alone.
For if you still have a quart of tenderness left for me in you heart,
You'll take me back to the car care professionals at Firestone.

Love, Your 1991 Escort Lx.

Mind you, I took Louie (the vehicle credited with penning the poem) to the junkyard two months ago. I must admit, the card from my car was a bit unsettingly. There he was, crying for some (extensive) TLC, and I just turned him in for a younger model; "hit the blinker and turn away." I hope I've learned my lesson and never treat my husband in such a callous manner. Or maybe I really do only like shiny newer-ish things. Lots to ponder.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I just saw this fair maiden here talking to a tree trunk, and since I'm an arborist I thought I could help translate.

I know I am not the only person who finds it tempting to listen in on conversations in crowded restaurants, stores, sidewalk or the like. Whether it be an particularly boisterous neighboring table, a drunken altercation, or a lovers' quarell in the middle of the mall I find myself entranced by the anonymous exchanges which surround me. Not in a creepy way, mind you, but a rather sociological one. When it comes to most confrontation-type situations requiring a "fight or flight" decision, I fly--everytime. So I find it interesting to observe those who stay around and stick it out. I also find how people approach conversations facinating: humor, story-telling, gossip... People-watching as a method of research, if you will.
Yesterday evening I was privy to the awkward, stilted exchanges of a first date. Questions beg to answered: Will he buy the tickets? Will she want popcorn? How will they fill the silence when they've finished with the introductions? For our couple, the answers were: yes, yes and the following:
Guy: You know, reading a play can be deadly. But seeing it acted out by real people, that's like 60 times better.
Gal: Yeah.
Guy: So.... have you read any good plays recently?
Gal: No, I don't really read plays. *giggle* I think the last play I read was in high school.
Guy: *overzealous and too loud due to the fact that he has something to talk about* OH MY GOD! We OVERREAD Romeo and Juliet in high school. And when I say "OVERREAD" I mean five or six times!
The talking kinda stopped at this point.

Given, many conversation taken out of context seem less intellectually stimulating then they might of at the time. This is not one of them. But I empathize with the socially inept. I once went on a first date where my companion didn't talk. Not. One Word. Except to order a soda at one of the best Italian dessert places in town and tell me upon returning home--when I was already adding "the mute" to my list of party tales--that he had a "wonderful time" (Yeah. I don't get it either). It was awkward. I babbled; cause, really, what else is there to do when your date has willingly handed his tongue over to a cat who then ran away with it?
As an undergrad, traditional dating didn't really work because there was a limited pool of applicants and the chance that you might see that guy (for instance, the mute) and have to talk (or mime) with him if the date/relationship was unsuccessful. As a graduate, the applicant pool is non-exsistant (dating undergrads is unethical--and they're all very young; additionally, the town we live in is very, very small). However, ocal issues aside, active participation in the "cosmic dating process"is a must (See I'm With Lucy). Contray to popular fairy tales, chance meetings are few and Happily Ever After takes alot of work.
But, it's sooooo worth it.

There are [relationships] that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous.
~Carrie, Sex in the City.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Such a fortunate fool

Every year, around January 1st, I bring my years journals and diaries to the nearest fireplace and burn them. It's a ritual I look forward to, mainly because I am literally "cleaning the slate" by removing the records of the previous year's raw emotion. Bridget Jones was right: "Everyone knows diaries are just... full of crap." An mine are no exception. Keeping track of your immediate reactions to events and people is, in my opinion, just asking for troule. And, when I achieve a certain level of fame, there is a good chance that someone will want to catalogue the writing of my youth. They can have my school assignments, not my first loves and heartbreaks.
However, while visiting my parents, I came across a journal that I didn't destroy. And it covered multiple years, something I thought I never did. But, there it all is. Joy, anger, frustration, reluctant acceptance, loss; the entries run the gammet of a teenager'sThe emotional year (plus).
Perhaps what I am most struck by is the emotional wieght of all that is written in this forgotten record. Because I don't generally have the oppurtunity to walk down this particular memory path, I rely on memory. But memory, it seems, fades and changes a bit. Rather than remembering the intense feeling of a crush, I look back and see silly fancy. An embarassing story I've told a few times over bears fresh new emotion and feels more life-or-death than I remember.
Every year I start a journal, and every year (around April) I stop writing in it. I never find it as cathartic as I expect. I spend alot of time worrying about who will find it and what they'll think about it. And then I lose interest. It's rather surprising that I've blogged for as long as I have. But then, I know that other people are reading this and respond accordingly. And then there are the pretty pictures....
I didn't burn the journal. Haven't decided if I'm going to or not. Perhaps those young historians need something original. Or not.
You'll be loved, you'll be loved like you never have been. The memories of me will seem more like bad dreams. Just a series of blurs, like I never occurred. One day you will be loved.
~Death Cab for Cutie
So, why the Cavalier? Not a simple reference to a far off knight in not-so-shiny armor. No, no. I brought Sookie, my '98 pepper red Chevy Cavalier, home this weekend. She's wonderful. And I am mobile again. Let the people rejoice!
Finally, I've been seeing alot of Andy Warhol's work recently at museaums, on TV, in magazines. So, I thought I'd share.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The heart of man's a palace, and his dreams are as the sunrise

Recently, I came to the realization that my college friends and I will be celebrating our 6th anniversary of friendship come 2006. While not one to generally celebrate such milestones (particularly if the celebration doesn't call for a romantic mini-break with my soulmate--an Alton Brown, George Clooney, Clive Owens type meant just for me--which, obviously, in this case it does not), it turns out that 6 years is one-quarter of my lifetime. These people (loving refered to as My Chosen Family) have been around for a signifigant portion of my life. We watched (and helped) each other "grow up," stood together as we eached learned them meaning of personal independance, and still offer each other the laughter, shoulders, tears, wisdom, etc. we all need. No small task.

This revelation, and the approaching holiday season, have brought me to a very nostalgic place. What about the other three-quarters of my life? While I keep intouch with one or two close friends from life before college, it sometimes feels as though that time and those memories are slowly sliding away, making room for all that is to come. However, there are things I don't want to lose. For example: listening to radio programs with my father, cooking with my paternal grandmother, visits to my maternal grandparents' farm, church services (specific Easters and Christmases with childhood and family friends), songs, "jam sessions" with the Strong women and my younger brother's innate ability to comfort. Even as I write this, memories I have not revisited in years come flooding back.

One key to the nostalgia puzzle is to remember the why and wherefore of traditions. For my family, this is particularly true during the "holiday season, " a time extending from November until April: Thanksgiving, Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. Growing up on the Anglican calendar, it sometimes felt as though everyone in the family held their breath until the Easter Vigil (perhaps explaining why it's one of my favorite services of the year). So, at a relatively young age, I took on some of work "back at the ranch."

I have long been the cleaner, decorator and cook in my family, (especially around the holidays). This wasn't something I was asked to do, but something I took on in addition to my regular chores. While my parents dealt with the spiritual needs of their parishioners (and the varied needs of their children), I suppose I sensed a need to take care of them. While they performed 5-6 services a holiday weekend, I would plan dinner, con my siblings into decorating/cleaning the house and make sure that the things that were supposed to take place every year happened. After Thanksgiving dinner, we would gather to watch the "new" Miracle on 34th Street; after putting out my mother's rather extensive collection of St. Nicks (or "the army of Nicoli"--so dubbed as the entire collection march across the piano in military formation one year) my brother, sister and I would put on a St. Nicholas Day play retelling the great Saint's story; White Christmas usually came out the 2nd or 3rd week of Advent, as did The Muppet Family Christmas and The Muppet Christmas Carol; holiday music made it's way up from the basement to the stereo well before the 1st Sunday of December; favorite holiday foods (my father's department--and eventually mine) and cookies (my mother's) were requested. While hectic and stressful for everyone, the holidays always came together. The traditions have been tweaked a bit as we've moved into a new home and grown older, but a Strong family Christmas remains a unique celebration, and one of my favorite things.

Which is why I have spent a embarrassingly large amount of time looking 1986's Peter, Paul and Mary Holiday Concert on DVD. Our family tape has slowly deteriorated, and while the CD is wonderful it's not the same. As I was about to give up hope, a copy from South Korea became available on When I received it this week, it was difficult for me to contain my glee. As I watched it, I found myself both elated and tearful. Here was one of my most favorite Christmas memories, digitally remastered for my veiwing pleasure. So what was pulling at my heartstrings? Nostalgia? Something more?

To be sure, my new DVD takes me back to my fourth Christmas, when I watched the tape constantly, singing along with people I was not only sure I loved, but who certainly loved me. But, the music of PP&M, particularly the original holiday music, is a constant reminder of what I hold onto while sending out my Christmas cards, planning dinners and making my own pilgrimage to Massachusetts: we have come so very far, we owe so very much for what we have, we have so far to go. Regardless of religious tradition, this time is a celebration of passionate, far-reaching joy and a re-commitment to our fellow-man; we are celebrating and calling for peace. And that philosophy's part of my childhood as much as the holiday traditions, if not more so.

One-quarter of lifetime: that's alot. But the three-quarters proceeding have memories that we may only alight upon in passing. I am made up of all my experiences, traditions and beliefs. Sometimes I just need a little reminding.

Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn't die

Light one candle for the pain they endured

When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice

Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know

When the peacemaker's time is at hand

Don't let the light go out!

It's lasted for so many years!

Don't let the light go out!

Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need

To never become our own foe

And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago

Light one candle for all we believe in

That anger not tear us apart

And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts

What is the memory that's valued so highly

That we keep it alive in that flame?

What's the commitment to those who have died

That we cry out they've not died in vain?

We have come this far always believing

That justice would somehow prevail

This is the burden, this is the promise

This is why we will not fail!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

It's not me, it's the crowd!

I don't know when my love afair with the alphabet began. It certainly wasn't when I learned it, singing the tune of "Twinkle, twinkle little star" while my tounge twisted itself around the "L, M, N, O, P" transition (it always sounded like 3 letters rather than 5: "elm, noo, p"). It wasn't when I began reading aloud. I went through elementary school at the end of the phonetics movement. I would sound out the parts of word, and quite proudly exclaim a mispronounced version of the word (this continued into my adulthood--paradigm has always been "para-didge-em" when I read it silently, and I've never mastered whether it's in-TEG-grel or IN-te-gral). It certainly wasn't during handwriting class--I developed an adult (somewhat indecipherable) script rather quickly, much to my teachers' chagrin.
But, somewhere along the way I have developed respect and admiration for the Latin Alphabet. It really is quite beautiful. And a rather concise summation of our basic communication tools--26 letters is nothing compare to the hundreds of characters in other alphabets. Mostly, I've come to love how well it works as an organizational tool. I can always find the book I'm looking for, or the file, or the notecard. And so could anyone else who might want to.
So simple; so beautiful. *sigh*