holiday overbooking

Ahhhh… Christmastime! A time of joy and laughter and beautifully clothed carolers singing about wasail and presents!

Growing up, I fell in love with the idea of Christmas — a time of year when everything took on a new sheen – a bright new personality, a time of year when people thought of others and a general kindness filled the air.

I always thought that the older I got the more my life would resemble this holiday dream, but I find that each year becomes more and more filled with obligations, duties and projects!

NEVER ENDING PROJECTS!!!

And rather than be entranced by the beautiful lights, the delicious fudge, and the sound of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, I am filled with an innate dread as the date of Christmas comes inexorably closer, because it has become a deadline — a deadline for all those presents and projects to be finished.

And I suppose it shouldn’t bother me so much, but I feel the weight of expectation hang heavily. It speaks in a deep, dark whisper…

“If you don’t get Aunt Such-And-Such or Co-worker Andynonymous that special card or gift, then they will think you don’t care… they will think that you despise them…”

And part of the problem is my own expectations. I can’t simply do as many others do and sign a card — I must put a unique and special message inside! What is the use of a card if it doesn’t actually say anything? I can’t just buy a cocoa mug gift set from KMart — I must find something that signifies I know something about that person’s likes and dislikes. It doesn’t have to be “the perfect gift”, but it better be pretty close!

So, inevitably I get so busy, I run out of time, and end up giving gifts and cards to only half the people I wanted to… would people prefer any card (even a non-personalized one) to none at all? Would you?

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21 December 2010 at 11:46 am 4 comments

my reflection

Perhaps I was naive, but I honestly thought this week wouldn’t be too difficult. Yes, there was the problem of putting on make-up without actually seeing what I was doing, but I thought that would be about it… right?

The biggest problem was avoidance. Since when did so many wall-length mirrors get put in? It was almost as if I couldn’t walk 10 steps without running into a huge mirror! My tiny apartment was the only building I stepped into regularly that didn’t have a mirror in the bathroom the size of a colossus. I suddenly felt out of vogue.

You might think that going a whole week without looking seriously at myself would make fashion and style a bit less relevant – and it might have, if I’d had the fortune to be cloistered in a nunnery with simple walls and gardens and women who all wore the same outfit. But I was still a part of society and I could only gauge my looks by what other people’s gaze told me. I no longer had my own barometer, my own weathervane, my own Geiger counter, so their opinion was all I had.

And as every anorexic teenager can testify — basing your self-view purely on everyone else’s view is never a good idea.

I have to confess that I did cheat a little bit. Because I felt just so “blah” I had to go shopping. And not just any shopping. I had to go shopping for clothes. And I couldn’t shop for clothes without looking into a mirror at all! I justified the offense by only looking at the clothes – not at my face or hair, which only made me feel strangely disembodied, like some headless horseman. But the headless horseman found some jeans that made its butt look good, so who needed a head?

Perhaps the worst part of the week was that I felt like I was avoiding myself. Whenever I happened to catch my own eye, my first thought was always, “She looks familiar! … oh, its me – of course she’s familiar stupid! Now look away!” I was avoiding my own face as though it were illegal. And as a result I lost some of that bitter, yet insightful self-contemplation that happens when you look at yourself in the mirror.

It usually happens when I am washing my face. I wet, wash & scrub and then rinse. As the water falls in shiny drops down my face, I keep my eyes closed until I feel the soft towel press against my face. Then I look up and I look into — well, I look into me. I take in the eyes, the brows, the small scar that resides just below my lip, and I think about all the things I am doing. I think about what I am, what I have been, and what I really want to be…what I really want that reflection to look like when it looks back at me.

THIS WEEK: A week without cookies, cake or candy! (or any baked dessert)

4 May 2010 at 9:55 am 1 comment

apology

Sorry I didn’t get this out yesterday. I came down with some icky illness that left me feeling tired and achy, so this blog entry went to the back of my priority list — sleep, sleep and more sleep moved to the front.

Wishing everyone health.

4 May 2010 at 9:48 am Leave a comment

cheese

Look at all this lovely cheese!

Cheese is truly the number one sneak thief of the dairy kingdom! No other dairy product infiltrates so many courses so easily. Cheese can be found in appetizers, salads, main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. I picked it out of my salads, I peeled it off my taquitos, and I found myself asking, “What is in this ____?” over and over again, just to be sure I didn’t accidentally eat it in a casserole. At a wedding on Saturday, I took a full bite of a won-ton before I realized that its stuffing had cheese in it. I quickly found a napkin and spit it out, but I didn’t try many more of the offerings on the table…there weren’t that many spare napkins.

Perhaps the hardest dish to give up was a beautifully cheesy pasta dish I was offered on Friday.

It looked like this, only 100x cheesier!

Our family calls it rattlesnake pasta, because it has just a kick of chile, which gives it some “bite”. On a Monday, it wouldn’t have been such a sacrifice, but I’d been feeling particularly stressed out by Friday afternoon: work had been difficult; I didn’t finish my list of projects for the week; I hadn’t gotten in my lunchtime walk through the desert either (which always makes me a bit cranky); and then I strolled through the door and there – sitting in the middle of the table, haloed in a golden light was a beautiful bubbling pasta. The cheese was so thick that you could see it stretch and separate into ragged edges of cheesy goodness when you took out a spoonful: comfort food extraordinaire — and I couldn’t take a bite! Oh, how I wanted to!  I knew that just one taste, just one spoonful, would make my bad workweek a long-forgotten memory and I would be able to relax. My shoulders would loosen, I’d take off my shoes and let the natural chemistry of cheese and starch do its number on my brain…

But it wasn’t to be.

Instead I had a salad and ice cream.

And this is perhaps what saved me from total devastation last week. I went without cheese, but not without all dairy products. (Which is what true Vegans actually do.) So I consumed milk and ice cream by the bowlful! As a general rule, I do not drink much milk by itself – I use it in cooking, but a tall glass of milk is usually just an accessory to a large, round cookie. However, this past week I drank two whole glasses of milk without anything else! I could almost hear my bones gasping, “Calcium!” like a parched wanderer cries for water while trying to clutch the sun. It was probably all in my head. A true calcium deficiency could not have appeared in only a few days, but it didn’t matter what made sense. I only mattered how I felt. So, I downed my body’s choking gasps with a river of white, creamy milk. I felt downright silly without a cookie to dip, but I drank so quickly that the feeling didn’t last long.

I think perhaps Ms. Jaunty is right — I can go a week without cheese. It didn’t kill me, but I still don’t think I could go for the rest of my life without it. And a small part of me knows that going one week without my yummy snack will only make it more delicious now, especially when I devour the chocolate cheesecake my sister made from scratch – I can hardly wait!

THIS WEEK: A WEEK WITHOUT looking at myself in the mirror or any other reflective surface.

26 April 2010 at 12:21 pm 2 comments

a week without — NEW THEME!

Recently (I use the term loosely, because I believe this happened over a month ago) I had a wonderful lunch with a fellow blogging friend of mine, Jaunty Dame. I mentioned that I was having difficulty getting back to writing on this blog regularly, because I needed a THEME of some kind.

I needed something to unify the thoughts and feelings that I put on here, because random rants do not great blogs make, and by nature, I am a person addicted to theme — it is often the first thing I decide when planning an activity, dance or talk, AND it is the thing I can always go back to when my thoughts, ideas and feelings stray too far from the original point!

Initially, she wasn’t able to offer any flashes of brilliance (which I did expect from her, because she IS Ms. Jaunty, after all), but later I asked how her vegan diet was going — did she miss any foods that she had previously loved? As we spoke on this topic I remarked, “Well, I know that I could never go for the rest of my life without cheese. I love cheese. It’s a regular part of my life that I could NEVER give up!”

She laughed and said that perhaps THAT would work as a theme for my blog — each week I could go without something and see how I felt – What were the results? After all, anyone can survive a week without something, right?

SO- HERE I AM! I will be starting each week with a blog about what I will be giving up, as well as a detailed report on how it felt to go “without” for an entire week.

And in honor of my dear friend, Ms. Jaunty, the first week I WILL GO WITHOUT CHEESE! Ah, the horror!

So, wish me luck and don’t ask me to smile for any photographs!

19 April 2010 at 12:46 pm 4 comments

the victorian mindset

Recently I have been researching Victorian weddings in an effort to prepare for a Living History event at the museum. I found a book titled “Victorian Weddings and Wedding Anniversaries” which was originally published in 1894.

Interestingly enough, the bulk of the modern wedding ceremony has its origins in The Victorian Era, so a lot of the book covers pretty familiar turf. Here are some excerpts from the book that I thought were particularly fascinating and/or funny:

On Congratulations:
“No one congratulates a bride — that is, no one who is desirous of observing the proprieties. Congratulations are for the groom; to the bride one may express the hope that she will be very happy, but to congratulate her would seem to indicate a belief that her success in enticing the groom to her side was a fair mark for applause, and it chivalric as well as delicate to consider the reverse the truth — indeed, no matter what we think, it is bad form to express any feeling contrary to that which leads us to wish all brides much happiness and heartily congratulate the grooms.”

On keeping secrets:
“There are seldom good reasons for keeping a marriage secret, and to do so is ill-advised for obvious reasons. Besides, such a marriage is very bad form.”

On Honeymoons (or The Wedding Tour):
“An English bride would never dream of attempting a sea voyage or of scurrying across a continent sightseeing for a wedding journey. And indeed there is wisdom in this, for traveling is rather trying to one’s nerves and temper, and decidedly demoralizing to one’s personal appearance. Of course a cinder more or less on one’s face, a dismally straightened out bang, ought not to alienate a man’s affections for the woman he has taken for better or for worse, but it is a kind of a shock to have the worse tried on him so soon and when he isn’t really prepared for it.”

On house weddings:
“House weddings are less fatiguing than church weddings, and timid brides prefer that their nuptials shall be celebrated at home.”

On a “Woman’s Fancy”:
“One morning at table, when one of us quoted the lines: ‘In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,’ John, who is a hopeless and crusty old bachelor, remarked that woman’s fancy seemed to turn in the direction of love at all times of year, irrespective of season; if it wasn’t love of self, it veered only sufficiently to include new dresses and hats.
Beth, who is not easily subdued and can uphold her sex with considerable valor, neatly retorted that woman’s fancy had certainly never seemed to veer in his direction.”

On young girl’s ideals:
“Still it is interesting to listen to the young girl’s ideal of a wedding journey, for ideals are such pretty things until they come in contact with reality and get their wings clipped.”

On a Bridesmaids’ responsibility:
“When distance will permit, bridesmaids should call upon the mother of the bride within a day or two after the wedding. It is a delicate courtesy for the maids, one or more daily, to pay little calls of this kind during the absence of the bride, and more than that this attention is made almost obligatory by the tenets of good form.”

On “The Groom’s Dinner” (or The Bachelor Party):
“When there are to be six ushers, they, with the groom and best man will form a pleasant and congenial group. More guests will make the dinner less intimate and lessen the friendly interchange of happy memories and future hopes. Eight is considered an ideal number for any dinner.”

On wedding cake:
“Each departing guest takes from the hall table as a souvenir of the wedding one of the boxes of wedding cake which should be arranged there. To take more than one box, unless asked by the hostess to convey one to a friend, is unpleasant evidence of  very bad breeding.”

27 January 2010 at 3:57 pm 2 comments

feminism

In a recent discussion, I contended that throughout history — where ever there was a good and decent man, women have always had equal rights.

Here is a little proof that my argument holds some validity:

In 1837, when the celebrated Theodore Parker married Miss Lydia Dodge Cabot, he entered in his journal on his wedding day the following resolutions:

“1. Never, except for the best of reasons, to oppose my wife’s will.
2. To discharge all duties for her sake freely.
3. Never to scold.
4. Never to look cross at her.
5. Never to weary her with commands.
6. To promote her piety.
7. To bear her burdens.
8. To overlook her foibles.
9. To save, cherish, and forever defend her.
10. To remember her always most fervently in my prayers.
Thus, God willing, we shall be blessed.”

21 January 2010 at 11:47 am 3 comments

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