The best thing about Christmas is the songs. I wait all year to hear the traditional ones (who else loves belting out “O Holy Night” in their car?), the classics (it’s not Christmas unless you’ve gone on a “Sleigh Ride” at least 46 times), and even the contemporary ones. But the latter category is often why Christmas songs are the worst part about Christmas too. For every amazing contemporary Christmas song, there are always going to be pop stars who think for some inexplicable reason that getting festive means getting sexy. I’m looking at you, Lady Gaga, and your “Christmas Tree.”
I was at the theater the other night with my husband to attend a hilarious adaptation of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray. According to Gray, men and women are so different in the way they talk, act and express their feelings that it is tantamount to saying that they’re from different planets. It made me realize just how amazing and even improbable it is that so many couples are actually able to live together at all.
To make his point, the stand-up comedian engaged with the crowd about how women and men respectively talked with their peers in a much more natural way based on their common language. And he was right: compared to a sexual relationship, friendship is so easy, carefree and headache-free. Okay, maybe not the headache-free part.
“Girls’ night, 7:00 at the Parrot bar. See y’all tonight.”
My favorite kind of texts to send or receive. Forget RSVP; it’s totally extraneous. Save for a nuclear cataclysm, the response goes without saying, because a night out with the girls is a promise of time worthily spent with laughter, tears, in and out of tune singing, suave or fail dancing, wine and raw vegetables and crackers. And by the end of the night, you might find yourself miserably sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, swaying back and forth with your head between your knees while your girlfriends either hold your hair back or shoot photos and make fun of how you look like shit. Vomit bags on demand. (Yes, your girls are THAT nice.) Chance of hangover: high.
I used to have a memory that everyone else relied on. Want to know what you were doing five years ago today? If I was there, I’ll know. Can’t remember the name of your first grade teacher? If I was in your class (or just the same school) I can tell you. It’s always been part of my identity: The Girl Who Remembered Everything. But a couple days ago, I realized that my talent might be on the wane.
I was done teaching classes for the weekend and wholly focused on escaping to the parking lot. So the student was practically on top of me before I realized that she’d been desperately trying to get my attention. “How ARE you?” she asked excitedly.
“I’m good,” I replied, frantically searching my brain for her name, the semester she might have been in my class, anything. She didn’t even look familiar to me.
She threw her arms around me unexpectedly, and I found my nose pressed awkwardly into her armpit, as she was a good six inches taller than me. “I wanted to thank you so much for all of your help, especially about the advice on how to get an internship,” she continued. “I’ll never forget it.”
Right. And I once believed that I’d never forget any of my students’ names.
Six months ago, I met up with my co-blogger Michelle in New York. She was there with her husband while I brought my twelve-year-old daughter. It was a hot Memorial Day weekend. By hot, I mean really hot. Like 100-plus-degree hot. And crowded-with-marine-uniformed-guys hot. (Not that I much looked, or touched.) On the Saturday, we decided to “hop-on hop-off” with one of those open-bus tours and visit north Manhattan and Harlem. But things didn’t go quite as expected.
On paper, it was pretty easy and appealing: you hop on a bus, and then you hop off of it whenever you want to explore whatever monument or place you stop by, and you hop back on the next double-decker. Hop on, hop off. Easy. But in order to do so, people actually have to get off the bus and make room for you. Or — even better — you have to get on a bus in the first place.
On his clammy bench, Cassius readjusted the damp cardboard under his buttocks. The hardened snow that stuck to the thick brown paper made the faint sound of a cloth being crumpled as Cassius shifted. The old man with the sparse gray beard pulled up his coat collars and lapels for a second time and wrapped them around his neck, which was reddened with the sharp frigidness of the December night. Lightly as a quarter rest on a music sheet, a frost-bleached leaf whirled before his eyes and landed quietly on his knee. As persistent as a metronome, waves crashed onto the sand, marking time in adagio.
A squirrel jumping from tree to tree or scratching in the snow, a bird singing or flying off, a distant unidentified rumbling, the breeze shaking branches, water dripping from a rock … The familiar rhythms of the evening spun before him but never came quite close enough to touch.
Cassius inhaled deeply, the bitter air giving him pause as he visualized the music again, forcing his mind to feel disoriented and intoxicated by it. To feel its magic, to absorb its spirit-power and let it overtake his soul.
Wait … Mulder and Scully had a second child? When did that happen?? And how!?
Just hold your horses, there. It didn’t happen. Technically. But that’s the beauty of fanfiction: whatever you dream up in your head can suddenly happen in your favorite fandom. All you have to do is write it down.
If you’ve been living under a rock (or, more generously, not that invested in entertainment) you may not be familiar with the concept of fanfiction. Basically, it’s fiction featuring characters and other elements from a particular fandom (TV series, movies, books, video games, etc.) written by a fan. If you think that’s a lot of “fiction” and a lot of “fan” in one sentence, you’re starting to get the idea. To put it more simply: it’s a story written by an author who shamelessly steals someone else’s copyright. Authors don’t get paid, but they don’t get sued, either. Fair enough.
In the spirit of this time of year, where people put on costumes and pretend to be what they are not, I decided to make believe I could cook as well. But instead of simply disguising myself as a baker, I took it one step further and thought I’d create some homemade Halloween treats.
I normally don’t make anything. This includes costumes, decorations, jack o’ lanterns, candy bags for my kids to pass out to their classes, and yes, baked treats. So Halloween (and holidays in general) is already a nerve-wracking time of year for me, as I usually have to figure out how to get around all of this creativity and still produce the necessary magic for my children.
Have you ever been so absorbed in a book that it left you laughing out loud through heartrending tears? Shit, I wish reading glasses came with demister devices. I’ve hitherto read lots of books from numerous authors, nationalities and centuries, and in various genres or interests. Humorous books not always funny, thriller books offering new insight on a good nightmare’s sleep, historical books that are more effective than Ambien, and even erotic books benefiting both you and your spouse into some horizontal hula dancing. Thereby, I mostly read children’s books these days.
But then, among all those fine books, there’s this one, this Crème de la crème one that kept me awake past four in the morning for two nights in a row. It was simply too good to stop, like the best sex you’ve ever had (with a book), hands down. Now we’re talking. If you thought reading was not your thing, then this one will change your mind about books. (Or sex.)
“Batman or Superman?”
“NOOOOOOOO!” My three-year-old runs out of the room screaming, as if he’s a comic book villain and I’ve just threatened to unleash the Justice League on him.
But that’s silly. He’s not a Bad Guy (except at bedtime) and I’d clearly be sending Firestorm after him at this point if I had my choice of superheroes on speed dial.
I chase him and hold up the two pairs of underwear in front of him again. “Batman or Superman?” I repeat, this time through gritted teeth. I read somewhere that parents are supposed to give kids a choice so that they feel more in control of their lives.
These same experts are silent about what to do when a kid wants ALL of the control.
“I HATE UNDERWEAR! I WANT A DIAPER!”
Living on an island discovered by Christopher Columbus and his mates and blogging with an American mate were two obvious reasons for me to celebrate today being the anniversary of the great navigator’s arrival to America on October 12, 1492. But I didn’t. In addition to being Columbus Day, today is also National Kick Butt Day and THAT sounded a lot more appealing to me than Columbus’s nonetheless remarkable exploits.
It’s that time of year to put away the swimming suits and the sailboats to focus once again on that most highly anticipated tradition that defines the fall season. No, not gutting pumpkins or deer; I’m actually talking about the quintessentially American fall ritual: football.
I mean, of course, college football, since I live in a pro football wasteland.