Merry Christmas

I’m not going to let the birth of a savior and the word mass get in the way of my Christmas spirit. Strictly speaking, I’m more of a winter solstice/festivus kinda gal, but there are still many things about the Christmas season that I truly enjoy. I’ve already discussed my live tree fetish. But there are other aspects I love, besides buying myself presents as a by-product of buying others gifts, such as Christmas music. Right now I’m listening to Vince Guaraldi’s score and nothing makes me think of snow falling quite as much as the piano from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Christmas magic when the weather is unseasonably warm is just a CD away.

Christmas magic also in the batch of Russian tea cookies that my hostess has made and covered in fluffy powdered sugar. In the basement, there’s a tree standing in a sea of gift packages; we visit it and reel at the careful wrapping and the colorful bows. I’m not sure that the emphasis should be on the gifts, though I like a sea of potential joy as embodied by the piles of big and little boxes of bright patterned paper.

Plus, in an odd turn of events, I think I might have met Santa Claus yesterday. I dropped a box off at UPS around 3pm yesterday in Harrisburg, and today my sister in law says it arrived in Boston that afternoon.
I mean, I paid for the Tuesday shipping. New Year’s gifts are good enough.
But it traveled to Boston, not just the same day, but within a few hours. There’s either a time warp, some reindeer, elves, or a real Santa Claus hanging around the UPS store by the mall.

With or without proof of Santa, I’m all about candlelight and time together.

I just wanted to write this post to wish everyone a merry Christmas, a merry day with people they love, a merry bunch of presents, a merry meal or two, and a merry bunch of music, or Chinese food and a movie, whatever your idea of a seasonable celebration looks like at this time.

Merry Merry.

That Retirement Feeling

Being on vacation in someone else’s home gives me an unstructured floating feeling. I imagine that this is what retirement feels like: endless possibility, low motivation levels, countless napping opportunities. It’s both wonderful, feeling so un-moored, and slightly strange–having no priorities to guide my use of time. Of course there are the meals to share, and the basic personal hygiene maintenance obligations. I haven’t reverted to living like a bear. I am living like a dreaming moth: the blank slate feeling combined with the short days and grey skies sum up to a slightly surreal bent of mood. I’m enjoying the dis-reality, plotting to make margaritas from scratch, staying warm, spending too much time on word games and random social network posts. From a life-cycle perspective, my time use is somewhere between that of a teenager and that of an old lady. This highly relaxed 15 year old grandaunt wishes you a warm and peaceful holiday season.

Conflicting feelings/Imaginary Cat Bonding

I would probably feel better about being so lazy today if I had a cat. The cat and I could nap together, in solidarity, and awake and eat together in solidarity, and engage in some light grooming, a few stretches, some prancing about, and finally, more triumphant, self-satisfied napping. This is basically a summary of my cat-less day one of my luxurious two-week vacation. I haven’t been away from work for two weeks in a year. It feels weird and full of potential.

Maybe this imaginary cat idea is a fantastic notion–if I come to terms with my cat-like irresponsibility/laziness, I will be able to enjoy my professional grade goofing off without the typical guilt. Also, as a non cat with catlike tendencies, I get to enjoy great things like reading novels. Cat-like humans really have it all.

Maybe I need to get more structures and schedule my goofing off? Make it an official part of my vacation time. What would a good ratio be? 2/3 goofing off, 1/3 productive use of time/chores/writing/visiting with friends?

I’m entitled to goofing off. I’ve earned it. So why do I feel so guilty? Perhaps it’s because my xmas presents are un-wrapped. Maybe it’s because my final xmas package has not visited the post office yet. It could be that I’m under attack–my dormant, on-hold to-do list has awoken from its slumber and is acting like a starving angry Godzilla in need of attention.

The Godzilla is roaring while I nap. My napping powers are strong, and To-do Godzilla is ambitious, but has a mute button that I’m pushing repeatedly.

Some of the guilt (of course) is writing related. I got excellent feedback from my clever writing group on Monday on my latest iteration of my fairy tale retelling of snow white, and I have a lot to do. So much to do. I’m looking forward to tackling the revision, while being full of apprehension. Nothing fills me with so much excitement and trepidation as the looming revision process. For now, my proactive focus on napping means I’m going to let my trepidation fill me up, like a battery, and then deal with it.

It’s all about the diversion processes (at which I so excel). Good luck to all of us in facing off with the holidaze and our December To-do Godzillas.
Merry merry.

Play

Every day since the semester ended I’m feeling a little bit lighter and happier. Today I woke up and realized I was totally carefree. No pending homework. No feelings of guilt or obligation. I felt like a floaty balloon. A balloon that wanted a long nap.

There’s plenty to do, but a lot of it is going to the movies, watching movies, napping, reading guilty pleasures and fibrous fiction. I get to do with my mind whatever I want. Extravagant feeling.

In a nice turnaround, today for the first time in a long time, I wrote some fiction. 1000 words. I had a longstanding plot problem and I solved it. I’m facing my usual challenge with the ending, but that’s not so bad.
I’m feeling blessedly playful.

I have plenty to tackle in the next two weeks, but my chores will be book-ended with silly fun. Even having the time and leisure to dedicate to my chores fills me with relief and gratitude.

The holidays are looking brighter than ever. Merry merry.

Sure I can procrastinate, it’s Christmas

In addition to my cornucopia of typical procrastinating techniques, the holiday season adds a veritable arsenal of intriguing options for goofing off and Not Writing my last two academic papers. (Aside: How much time is there between Thursday night and Tuesday night? Lots, right?)

Anyway, I’m enjoying one of my very favorite end of year rituals, the thorough scouring of best of the year album lists, which means spending hours zipping through sonic samples on amazon, picking just the right new additions to my MP3 library to make me feel aurally spanking fresh in the new year.

Earlier tonight, I decorated our Charlie Brown-sized Christmas tree. Decorating Christmas trees makes me all perky and makes me sing Christmas songs to myself. Where does the joy come from?

I like giving presents, but I have a rocky prior relationship with Christmas. The Holiday Trees, however, escape my seasonal wrath. I just love that I get to take a very big plant form that has no business spending time in my living room, and I force it to spend at least two weeks with me indoors, and I make it up like a Barbie doll or an aging rock star–it’s swathed in light reflecting glittery things.

Or maybe it’s about the miniatures–I love artfully arranging the shiny miniature ornaments I buy at the German store in the Christmas Village on the tree.

Maybe my moments of seasonal magic are tied to my memories of getting up in the middle of the night in high school and going down to the couch in the living room where I would doze off to the blinking Christmas lights, so faery magic pretty.

I also enjoy the less classic holiday songs including, Elvis’s Blue Christmas and All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth, and Zat You, Santa Claus?

Other easy seasonal distractions:
1. Watching holiday comedies
2. Going to holiday parties
3. Deciding I haven’t been reading enough fiction lately and researching those “best of” lists (can you tell I’m a sucker for a best of?)
4. Shopping for gifts I have not budgeted for, but excusing the indulgence for the sake of those I love
5. Writing Christmas cards to people far and wide
6. Listening to and singing holiday songs
7. Planning my birthday outings
8. Planning my spring vacations
9. Writing holiday letters to myself on futureme.org
10. Finding new humor websites like theoatmeal.com
11. Holiday themed status updates on facebook
12. Going to visit relatives not exactly for the holidays, but within earshot of the holidays
13. Seriously pondering committing to a December cleaning spree, so I can face the New Year with pride and less clutter

Merry, merry, everyone.

Not my best time of year, frankly

So there are times, let’s say hypothetically November to March, where I dwell in a mild state of perpetual existential unease. December and January are the toughies, because I face the holidays, my annual self assessment, my family’s gaze, and my approaching birthday. I’m age-indifferent, and yet …

So in this precarious period of the year, I have to seek out small pleasures to keep me afloat on a moment to moment basis. Today, these pleasures have included coffee, napping on my office floor before class, a brief walk in the blazing noon sunshine, bourbon on ice, slices of hot sopressata, half a chocolate brownie, red berry smoothie, 1/3 of a toblerone bar, mint green tea, vinegar sea salt chips, Mozart’s requiem, goofing off, and writing a blog post. (You notice the food angle; I do too.) Last night it was watching endless movie trailers. The night before it was a viewing of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with repeated viewings of Diamond’s a Girl’s Best Friends. (I don’t like diamonds, but I do love Marylin’s flirty choreography, the pure girlishness of it all.)

The energy level, generally, is so lackluster that tonight my professor gave up in defeat at the lack of response from my classmates and sent us home 45 minutes early. I don’t have a good metaphor for this one. A last minute stay of an execution would be too dramatic, and winning the lottery equally improbable, yet the experience was delicious. We sat there and stared at him and he had to clarify and repeat, “Yes, class is over.”

I’m finding the stretch between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break unusually relentless this year. I’m trying not to throw the towel in, exactly, but it is soggy and moldy and I kind of want to get rid of it.

In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for imaginary hugs and imaginary cocktails with my gchat friend during work hours. The notion of an imaginary massage does a lot to relax me, visualization really is everything.

Hugs to all through the holiday season. Whirled peas and whatnot.

Imagined Universes and the Christmas Letter

You know how families send around those Christmas letters detailing the year’s accomplishments and memories for the family as a whole and for its members? I got jealous. Single girls don’t send these letters. So I tried to write one (but maybe that’s already been done and it’s called Bridget Jones’ Diary) and it’s harder than it looks. I determined that in order to qualify for Christmas letter writing, I needed to have a family. So I concocted the only kind of family I could–an imaginary baby. Once I went through the process of imagining my family, it occurred to me that my life was full of imaginary things, or at least my mind was in constant dialogue running amok between my dreams, my perceptions, my past, my imagined future, my desires, and my realities. This was rich terrain. I wanted to write about identity, my identity, but I wanted to capture the influence of my multiple internal dialogues, including the very strong relationship I had with the imagined future.

Where did that realization come from? I knew about the imagined future because I had realized that the one aspect of breaking up (many times, over several decades) I found most difficult to deal with cognitively was the loss of my imagined future. It was an imagined possession that I truly missed having stolen.

So that’s where I got started. Also, I’ve had a small, but potent relationship with the idea of multiple universes, in a very self-serving way. Whenever I feel constrained by my lived life and current choice sets, I like to imagine multiple other universes where I made radically different choices at critical junctures. There’s the me that spent a year abroad with the Rotary Club, the me that went to Bryn Mawr, the me that never left New York City, the me that got an MFA, the me that married young and disastrously, the me that is a junkie, the me that is a professor. They comfort me. And they remind me of my possibilities.
So those are the seeds of the memoir. The imagined. The possible. My identity. And my history (though I am more interested in the future than in the past, as a life philosophy).