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.


I was thinking before I started my two plane travels to New Delhi of all the different rumors and murmurs you hear about India: That people respond so strongly, that it provokes and makes visitors think. I’m still in a fog of jetlag and Ambien, having gone to bed at 4am last night, but I have some general impressions.

I burst the tourist bubble:
The hotel insists on making me take BMWs everywhere (my hotel bill will blow socks off). On the advice of a local colleague, I burst through the BMW bubble–while I was not allowed a taxi, and had to be white glove driven to Khan Market, I did pull off a low-rent return to base on my own terms. I took a three-wheeled auto rickshaw back to the hotel. Daring, dangerous, no seatbelts, vehicle of Chinese (i think) construction! Driver whose hands were covered in? Unknown. Driver with desperate eyes, but friendly conversation. The insistence I take his number in case I want a tour of the people’s Delhi. He disapproved of the places I had done some shopping, too expensive, locals would not go there.

Many staff, one Sylvie: There are many staff. They are all quite specialists. It is unclear to me the difference between each specialist staff member’s role, but some only provide fruit, other appear to give pistachio sweets at night, others dust (even my stuff on the counter), and others straighten the bed. I will go bankrupt trying to tip the lot, so I have given up.
There are greeters, those who xray your stuff, those who body scan you, those who open doors, those who join hands to say Namaste, and then all the others, function unknown, but readily available. Two charming ladies, or was it three total, were involved in my getting a cup of tea outside. It’s a bit overwhelming, this level of care of details.

Temptation abounds:
Many beautiful things to buy.

Sensory overload.
When I came into my hotel room last night, there were two men, the tv was on, a welcome beverage was handed to me, someone had just put a welcoming bindhi on my forehead, I had a jasmine necklace around my neck, I was asked to sign here and here, and then got a 30 minute lecture on how to operate my room’s many controls. It’s sights, scents, sounds unending.

Random animals.
There are unsupervised life forms of all stripes lying about. Dogs sleeping in market corridors, no sign of owners. Life abounds.

Acrid odors. It smells like burning plastic, similar to burning a milk carton.

Poverty. Apparently I was directed to a fairly fancy market (mostly tourists). The fancy market did not look fancy to me–except for the immaculate L’Occitane storefront. Also, crumbling pink concrete buildings were pointed out to me as government housing, apparently this was high end housing, and being a government employee is a high status occupation. I think back to Philly municipal employees. It’s all very interesting.

Relaxed movement.
Much like Rio, people kind of jaunt or saunter when they walk about. There doesn’t seem to be a rushed setting, the way I found in Hong Kong.

Friendly Kindness. As I went about shopping, I really didn’t know if I was being treated kindly or being robbed blind. I tried to engage the local women for their opinion and they were quite sweet, friendly and helpful. The shopkeepers also are nice and very respectful and have an elegant dignity about them. But I can’t help but feel that I have gold and platinum dollar signs blazing above my head when they look at me.

When I had tea, the tea was a California brand, Forte. It’s good tea, but I sometimes drink it in Philadelphia, and I certainly didn’t come to Delhi for California brand tea.

Myriad theories

While contemplating the Wye Oak, Yo La Tengo, The National show last night at the majestic Academy of Music, I occasionally had good ideas about writing.

(Yes, I need an excuse to blog, and lucky me, I have one tonight!)

I was thinking about how to manage my writing process, keeping the one month manuscript resting phase rule (which I’m enjoying). It occurred to me that the solution was to have a rotating list of manuscripts. I would need to log my scripts in and out of the cycle, but this system could work. It would force me to systematically work on one story, then let it rest, and pick up another story to push forward. Work, rest, work. Until I felt pieces had reached completion, and then they could move into a submission rotation list.  I could be so organized!

Right now the concept remains conceptual. I’m enjoying my writing hiatus. I think I’m anxious about the work/school/life/writing balancing act. I’m trying to add in activities slowly, one at a time, keeping things manageable. My approach resembles trying to add new foods into a diet when you’re trying to rule out allergies.

I’m waiting for the inevitable freak out. The moment when I grab my PC and shut myself in for a weekend and just write, write, write. At least, I hope it’s inevitable. The moment might never come and I might need to do what I usually need to do, which is schedule official writing time on a weekly basis, so writing doesn’t slip into my ever lengthening to do project pile. My optimistic side hopes that the new class subject matter will lead to new writing ideas. Tonight’s class related writing idea: the aging of the prison population means that jails will become expensive state-run nursing homes. So I can imagine desperate senior citizens (myself included) whose lack of retirement funds pushes them to a life of crime. And then devious granny prison gangs will rule the jail world. See, I’m full of ideas.