2009: A Year’s End Reflection (watch out for that glarespot)

(Cut for being image-heavy. More behind the cuts.)

Everywhere I turn, people are bidding the year farewell with a double up-yours: “Good riddance,” they say, “and now just go AWAY.”

I’ve had years like that.

But this one really *wasn’t* QUIIIITE one of them.

It has, however, been an eventful year. Mainly, it’s tough to realize that the first decade of the twenty-first century is over. Back when we were kids, 2010 was a fantasy. We expected a “Jetsons” life, complete with Rosie the robotic housekeeper. What I want to know is: where is my flying car? The members of our family who are no longer with us on Earth would be amazed to see us using cell phones, iPods, laptops, and other accoutrements of the digital age, so I suppose we should be happy with the technology we have. It has definitely changed the way the younglings’ brains develop, I think: the other day at the mall, a boy was yelling at his brother, “You need to reboot now, or Mom’s going to delete you!” Seriously, consider all the ways we handle things now as compared to the old coping methods (secretaries doing it all for bosses versus bosses, even Presidents, having BlackBerries and learning to type e-mail), and marvel at our “advancements.” Or wonder what exactly we’ve given up, and whether it was better the old way (though there’s no going back: the scene cannot be unseen, the word never unsaid.)

Continue reading “2009: A Year’s End Reflection (watch out for that glarespot)”

Getcha freak on: “Flowers in the Attic” mashup with A Wrinkle in Time’s Murry children

I usually don’t read fan fiction . . . and I’ve never read “Flowers in the Attic” or stuff like that . . . but I did love “Wrinkle in Time,” so I couldn’t resist.

This is really . . . um . . . different. Funny, but in such a twisted way.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/34381

Good grief. On that note, off to sleep!

Shortcut to fame and fortune!

That whole “Julie and Julia” thing–you know, the woman who decided that as a project she would spend a year making all the recipes in Julia Child’s famous cookbook and blog about it, and this led to a book deal and a movie (starring Meryl Streep and directed/scripted by Nora Ephron!) that’s just come out on DVD–has set me to thinking. (Watch out! Danger! Warning!) I need a project that I can do for a year like that and get a book deal out of it. No, really. It could work!

Here are the ideas I’ve come up with so far:

1. Sleep with a different celebrity every night and write about it. Obstacle: no access to celebs, tough sell to celebs (I can’t give it away as it is)
2. Cook every recipe out of “White Trash Cooking” (which was all the rage in the mid-80s around these parts) and blog about it. Obstacle: sudden death from the crazy high-fat and wild recipes (one example is the Hi-Cal Pick-Me-Up: Throw handful of salted cocktail peanuts in mouth. Wash down with huge gulp of icy R. C. Cola.)
3. Read a different book every day and blog about it. ***YAWNNNN*** Not!
4. Do a different math problem every day and blog about it. ***TRIPLE YAWNNN***
5. And here’s the one I think MIGHT have a chance. I could do a “Mind Performance Hack” every day and discuss it. I would create a separate blog for this purpose. What the heck is a Mind Performance Hack? It’s a brain/mind exercise, an intellectual game or exercise that you can do to keep your mind from bit-rot. Many jobs become routine, and you’re stuck doing the same thing or falling into a rut–you don’t use all your intellectual skills. Or you’re getting older and afraid you’ll lose your edge. Use it or lose it! But they’ve shown that if you DO use it, you DON’T lose it . . . at least not as quickly. It’s a legit pursuit.

I might do this. I was thinking of discussing the game “MasterMind” in my initial entry. Then I’d go on to illustrated journaling, dream-collecting, Sudoku, learning Morse code in order to communicate secretly with your friends, and other things that I suspect might be of interest to people who want to do things to keep their minds sharp.

I dunno if this would lead anywhere, but it might be fun. Would you read it? Or do you think that it has all been done before elsewhere, and better?

Also, I promise never to be as big of a horse’s patootie as that “Julie and Julia” author. Her second book makes her come across as . . . well, batshit crazy, as she might put it herself, and really nasty. (I skimmed through the parts of it that didn’t turn my stomach, but it didn’t appeal to me.) I didn’t care much for the first book, truth be told. But I’m not above copying her scheme to rise to the toppe for my 15 mins of fame! (Well, subtract 3 mins. for my worldwide fame as a finalist in last year’s Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. So 12 mins. of fame are still due me!)

~~*MERRY CHRISTMAS!*~~

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

D/FW had three inches of snow on Christmas Eve, which sets a new record. There are two and a half inches of snow on my patio tables (in the front courtyard, shaded only by the trees and crepe myrtles, whose branches are ice-coated like the ones in Frost’s “Birches” this morning)! And three or more on our cars parked in the driveway! The Pomeranian loves it! (That Alps fur coat.)

We’re watching the Disney Christmas Morning Parade. Is it just me, or is the whole put-on a little cheesy? They’re always talking about the stores and the stuff you can get–which wasn’t their original charter, or was it? I couldn’t understand a word Celine sang. I used to be able to understand Judy Garland, La Streisand, and most rock groups. Maybe she was just nervous. Anyway, the “Princess and Frog” vocalist did a little better. On to the Christmas pumpkin muffins and Mexican egg-taco casserole!!

’twas the night before Christmas!

We just got back from attempting to pick up “the other half of” my present at Wal-Mart, only to find that it has been officially tagged “lost in transit,” isn’t carried in the store, and had to be re-ordered (with an arrival date of 1-6-10). While I don’t know what it is, I suppose I can wear the brooch without the added diamonds . . . ride the bicycle without the wheels . . . read the book without the autograph. We’ll see! (As Gramma used to say)

I picked up another couple of stocking stuffers while I was at it, and three more pumpkin bread mixes. The Pillsbury Quick Bread in the blue box, pumpkin bread variety, was a HUGE HIT and was immediately consumed. Hubby said he couldn’t stop eating the one we’d kept for ourselves. So I figured I’d bake him another, just because it’s Christmas. And we need the heat from the oven: the temps have dropped significantly since we brought in the last of the groceries, and the D/FW Metroplex is supposed to be sugared over by late tonight, with up to three inches of Snow (!) sticking. We’ll see!!

The sense of melancholy has lasted, despite our best attempts to be Givers and Santa-types this past week. We did our usual Angel Tree (and the most fun I’ve had so far was picking out toys and size 6x clothing!), did a nursing home visit to take Pinky (Mama’s best friend) a fruit basket and a “personal care items” basket that turned out to be urgently needed (but the nursing home was a downer, as you might expect–she’s there because her insurance wouldn’t pay for rehab after all, and she can’t go home until her bones knit up a bit more), met hubby’s family for the annual gift exchange, made a flyover to our doctor’s office and two neighbors’ homes with stacks of home-baked breads and a trivia game gift, and even drove around to look at the lights. But . . . still a sadness prevails. I suppose this happens some years. You never appreciate your magical childhood (flawed though it may have been) until you’re the grown-up with no one to lay a magical childhood onto.

We’ll try to get up to visit my aunts and uncle and cousins on Christmas Day, unless the snow really does show up–in which case we’ll go on the 26th or 27th, whenever it melts. Maybe that’ll give me a shot of the ol’ holiday cheer. Sometimes I think it would be better if I were a drinker!

But, anyhow, blogging might be sporadic for a while (or not, if we’re snowed in). If we don’t read one another until afterward, here’s wishing you all the brightest of holiday magic and a sparkling New Year’s Eve/Day.

Happy Solstice!

And happy birthday to my sister-in-law. We had our gift exchange last night, so she’s already enjoying her Garfields.

Light the Yule Log tonight, or eat it, if your idea of a Yule Log, like mine, is the classic French buche de Noel. That’s a chocolate sheet cake studded with dried cherries that gets rolled up with frosting to form a Yule Log cake! I like that a lot better than the hot stuff.

UPDATE: the Council of Meanies

Oy, what activity levels we’ve had here at Casa el Dumpo since I wrote about The Doom Event. Let’s get the Confessions out of the way first.

Confession: the club I wrote about (the ones who voted me out, tra la) is a weight loss group for people who want to lose at least 45 pounds and maintain it forever. I had lost about 30 pounds earlier this year (around March/April and into May/June), but then I backslid. I don’t want to get all deep into the “some people simply cannot eat as much as other people can and still maintain the same weight” or “there are differences in metabolic rates” deal right now, but you probably know that weight bounces back on a lot faster than it comes off. I’ve had quite a bit to deal with over the past few months, and frankly I think spending a lot of time cooking and thinking about food is *B*O*R*I*N*G, so we’ve done the convenience thing and probably haven’t been good little elves. Medifast was a bit restrictive when I had a higher activity level and I simply fell off the salads-only wagon. *Still*, I haven’t gone around trying to fatten people up or undermining THEIR diets, so I figured, y’know.

But anyway, so they do have a leg to stand on. In some sense.

I got a call the morning after (cue Maureen McGovern song) from one of the group members whom I know a little better than the others (I still really only know her slightly, outside of the group.) She called to tell me that the group’s three main movers-and-shakers (and currently big losers–interpret that as you will) had pow-wowed about me and had decided that I needed a “wake-up call.” Some of you perhaps know the philosophy/reasoning behind “disfellowshipping,” which takes place in the Amish community and in some church denominations as well. When someone is disfellowshipped, he or she is basically thrown out of the church or community and everyone pretends there’s no such critter (in Amish communities, the next step is “shunning,” which has to be pretty hard on everyone.) The intention as stated is to “wake up” the sinner or backslider and force him/her to see his or her sins and faults so that he/she can fix them. I personally am not so sure that it has any such effect, EVER, but maybe on stronger personalities it does. Whatever. Anyway, that is the explanation for the organized bye-bye from the group.

They figured I’d throw myself on their mercy or something, I guess. They were surprised and got all offended when Hubster booted their butts out. But how was he to know, when no one said, “All you have to do to be welcomed back is commit to belief in our ways 4-ever, take this Doctor’s 1200 Calorie Diet Plan Sheet as your new Scripture, and never eat anything bigger than your head, ever again.” And I’m still not sure that it would have made any difference if they HAD spluttered out something. Their approach didn’t work on me.

I wouldn’t recommend the toughlove approach in MOST situations. There are better ways . . . and that approach brings out the Inquisitor/Torturer in almost every personality. Not pretty to watch. But that’s just me.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the three biggies (or smallies–depending on your point of view) simply saw this as a way to cut me down to size, er, make me be more impressed with them and their Accomplishment. And I am impressed, really I am. It’s just that . . . well, it’s very nice for them to be healthier and wear small sizes and play sports they couldn’t play before, but it’s not EVERYTHING about a person. They’re still the same person on the INSIDE as they were before. I can be happy for them without feeling that they’re “better people” than I am, or than any other person. We’re all the same amount of “worthy.” God loves a homeless guy, a criminal, a fat slob, and Robert Redford exactly the same. (Insert your own Universal Soul as appropriate.) Maybe they sensed an Attitude in me. It wouldn’t surprise me. I am notorious for jealousy, envy, and indignation over someone “less talented” who wins over the obviously “more talented,” as regular readers of this screed already know. So . . . perhaps this is what they sensed. I didn’t mean to let any of that show, if it’s there, but all have sinned and fall short. So.

Anyway. Just didn’t want you to worry that I had been laid low by a lack of credentials to join the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. I’m afraid to do any research on that, for fear we’ll find nothing but horse thieves and dirty old reprobates in the ol’ family oak.

Even considering how entertaining old reprobates can be, under the right circumstances.
* * *
On a related note, let me recommend the “So Be It” method of disconnecting in order to have a happy and serene holiday. Perhaps I should explain.

I’ve found that it doesn’t pay to court people to love you or care about you. You can expend endless energy and wear yourself out doing nice things to show THEM that YOU care, or going out of your way to meet them more than halfway, and you still won’t get a response that is more than “eh.” THIS IS NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE UNWORTHY. For whatever reason, this person doesn’t have the spark. He’s just not that into you. (Even if he’s your dad, your brother, your uncle, your cousin, your boyfriend, etc.)

Okay, SOME of them really love you and are just taking you for granted. You’re easy–they know YOU will take the initiative. If you stopped, they’d [eventually] notice, and they’d probably contact you. But that’s only SOME of them. It’s painful to hear this, but it’s probably true.

This is a hard lesson to learn, and I find myself learning it (teaching it to myself the hard way) over and over. But maybe I finally understand.

These people generally know where to find you (me) (whoever). If they wanted to get in touch, or gave a rodenhiney, they could. But they don’t. They never think about you when you’re not present. Sure, when you call they’re sincerely pleased, and they’re happy to hear from you. But after you hang up, you will evaporate from their headspace until the next time YOU initiate contact (or they run into you.) There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose . . . but if YOU want more out of the relationship, you’re always going to be disappointed. You can’t go around heartbroken about it, though. That allows this other person to hurt you even more.

I can’t help it that these people exist (and make up about half of the population, it seems). Hey, perhaps *I* am one of those people as seen from Person A’s perspective! (Although I can’t think of anyone who’s like that towards us . . . who calls first and who always gets neglected. To my eternal dismay, we did treat my Aunt Yvonne like that to some extent, taking her for granted and just assuming she’d always be there and would never be offended that we “forgot” her until the last minute or whatnot . . . and now she’s gone, and hell, I miss her. A lot.) It’s part of life, I guess.

But anyhow, if you are that person who is always searching for people from your past or who forever tries to get The Whole Family or The Entire Gang together, you may need to re-evaluate how much of your time to spend on that. Maybe if you just settled for the ones who actually reciprocate, you’d be a lot less tired. Maybe not happier, per se, but . . . less worn out from tryin’.

I’m just sayin’.

I hope I can remember to take this advice for the rest of the holiday season.