Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Glamour

It was a green Christmas this year. Singing songs on 5th Avenue about sleigh rides seemed a bit off, but the passers-by enjoyed it. One woman sang along to Jingle Bells in sign language! Here are some images of the season.

Three NYC socialites...

...with a spectacular Manhattan backdrop...

A patriotic holiday display:

A budding rock star (move over, Bono!):

I managed to stuff all my remaining Christmas gifts into my luggage and then caught an earlier flight out than I'd planned. The festivities were, well, festive. Delicious home-made eggnog flowed. Ancient Christmas records (yes, LPs) were dusted off for the occasion, for the first time in years. And once I broke into the record collection, we feasted on Beethoven symphonies and concertos as well. The local pastor gave a sermon about gift cards on Christmas Day -- I thought at first this was a broad hint to the congregation about what he was hoping to receive in the offering plates, but then it turned out he was just working his way around to talk about the gift [card] of the holy spirit. Oddly, he managed to avoid mentioning the need to "redeem" spiritual gift cards. Well, he certainly did better than some other pastors. At one church, they invited Santa in to talk to the kids, apparently in an effort to embrace materialism as part of the holy day.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


It's 4:16 a.m., so writing my blog is about the last thing I need to be doing at the moment. But I can't sleep, and I find myself very worrried about all the things I need to do today (and whether I can really do them). I'm tired and stressed-out, and I very much wish several things: (i) that I didn't need to pack for a long weekend away this weekend, (ii) that I weren't flying a tiny plane that will probably make me check my bag that has fragile (luggage-handler-wreckable) Christmas presents in it, (iii) that I had room for adequate clothes AND gifts in one bag, (iv) that I could just wear sweats and a ski jacket all weekend instead of feeling obliged to bring stupid dress-up clothes, (v) that I didn't have to think through all the pointless so-called "security measures" when planning what I will bring on the plane and how, (vi) that I didn't have an unexpected project with an unexpected deadline blindside me Tuesday and thus have to stay late the last 2 days to deal with it, (vii) that I wasn't obliged to go to a celebratory dinner with my colleagues Tuesday night, (viii) that the laundry machine had been working Monday when I tried to do a long-overdue load of laundry so I wouldn't have had to juggle in a trip to the laundromat, (ix) that I had to skip out on a prior obligation on Sunday that would have boosted my mood, (x) that I hadn't already lost every opportunity to accomplish necessary tasks and chores last weekend due to my whirlwind trip out of town that left me bedraggled and exhausted on Sunday and ill-equipped to deal with my week, (xi) that I hadn't committed to meeting up with some friends Sunday afternoon - friends who, through a series of unfortunate events, were an hour late meeting me, thus throwing off my schedule and making it impossible for me to prepare for the thing I wanted to do Sunday evening, (xii) that we didn't have 2 major projects due this week in a group outside of work, (xiii) that I had time for a pedicure and a haircut, (xiv) that my tailor didn't call me with questions that required me to stop by last night, (xv) that I didn't have a host of other petty personal concerns weighing me down (men, ambition, health of my newest relative, household chores). Oh yes, and that I didn't feel like I've been coming down with something for the past 7 days. And did I mention that the dinner on Tuesday meant that I couldn't attend the Traveler's Christmas Eve service at my church?

So yesterday morning, at work, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. I will re-construct the beginning of the call here for your edification.
Caller: "Z here. Are you happy?"
Me: "Am I happy?"
Slight pause, while I realize that this shockingly personal question from a professional colleague/acquaintance must have the implied qualifier "in your current job".
Me: "Oh, yes. It's good for now. Thanks."
Caller: "I just thought you looked really stressed yesterday. Not that I can do anything about it at the moment. But let me know."
Ironically, Z was part of the issue in item #vi above.

Bear with me, because these two pictures may at first appear to be a frolic and detour (or at least an abrupt changing of the subject). Here is a view from the Torre Guignol this summer, showing the lovely rooftops of Lucca:

I didn't realize right away what was written on one of the rooftops:

Things will get better. I'll plan on picking up my laundry, artwork, and tailoring next week, which is also when I will write my Christmas cards (aka "New Year's cards").

Good night & merry Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Life is good

Soccer game last night, volleyball game this night. The soccer was actually more exhilarating - I was running up and down the court, which got my blood pumping. Just what my body was craving, and I didn't even know it. Or rather, I sensed it, but kept coming up with excuses why I couldn't go push myself to anywhere near the limit. We lost by 2 points - and the referee made more than 2 bad calls. He really seemed to have it in for us. The other team kept basically throwing themselves down at our feet, and when we would offer sympathy or a helping hand, the ref assumed we'd tripped them up. Which we didn't - I was watching each time.

The volleyball game tonight we won, so we got 4 more points and have made it into the playoffs. My serves were a bit unreliable tonight, which is galling - there's no reason to do anything less than get 'em over the net each time. Oh well.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The American Pilot

The off-Broadway production, "The American Pilot" centers on -- you guessed it -- a Swedish architect, er, I mean an American pilot who crash-lands in rebel-occupied territory (a remote village in a nation where the U.S. has been supporting the government). We meet four villagers (the farmer who finds the pilot, his wife, and their 16-year-old daughter; plus a member of the village council), the Captain of the rebel forces, and the Captain's translator. They need to decide what to do with the American, who is handicapped by a broken leg and by total ignorance of the local language. The pilot tries everything he can think of to save himself; he shows pictures of his wife and kids and alternately promises rewards for those who help and vengeance from his men if anyone hurts him. (Only the threats get translated; the translator is not totally fluent in English.) The daughter has a messianic streak, and takes a shine to the American. Her father and mother feel compassion for the American, but want to stay out of trouble (and find a husband for the daughter). The Captain is washed up and ready to quit rebelling. The translator thinks it would make him feel better to kill the American (his financee was killed by an American missile. The councilman is looking for a profit. Meanwhile, the Captain wants to set up the sweet, messainic daughter with his boorish and pornography-obsessed translator; and the mother is willing to pressure her daughter into this repulsive match in order to save one of her sons from having to join the rebel forces.

The play was well done and engaging, and I didn't predict the end.

However, once you see the way things work out, there's not much to reflect on - no provocative themes or characters to deconstruct for hours afterward. In fact, in a way, the end (although plausible) is a bit of a cop-out.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sweet, except for the long-distance charges

> Toddler Y made a few "calls" on the toy phone in the doll
> house. She called Z, and had some brief [pretend]
> conversations. Later, she brought up the subject,
> and said, looking at the fingers on one hand, " I
> called Aunt Z four times."

Just wait until she is a teenager.

Friday, December 01, 2006

New Niece

My niece was born today, after 25 hours of labor. She appears to be big and strong, despite an initial scare. (She is actually 9 lbs, so there is a lot of her to love!) Mom and Dad are tired but holding up well.