Thursday, December 20, 2007

Things I love about my office

For the first time in my life, it's just the office, not The Office.

Every year around this time, holiday festiveness breaks out to the extent that it seems no corner of our floor is left un-festooned with blinking lights and garland and tiny fake Christmas trees and assorted other glittery junk you can buy at Walgreen's.

The assortment of leftover homemade cookies, cake and not one, but TWO crock pots filled with Swedish meatballs--the remnants of yesterday's Yankee Swap--is seemingly undiminished even though dozens of people have been picking at it all day.

This year I actually scored a cool and useful Yankee Swap gift--a new crock pot! (You can sense a trend here.) Maybe I'll use it to make Swedish meatballs for next year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Things I'm going to try to do, and not do, in 2008

1. Savor every moment with my Peanut before she outgrows wanting to hang out with me. She says "I love you" to me and Mr. Fraulein all the time now. There is nothing like being loved by a 3-year-old!

2. Cut down my news consumption even more. If you had told me, back in the mid-90s when I was an actual member of the news media, that I would eventually stop reading newspapers and watching TV news altogether, I would have said you were insane. I still read a few blogs and lefty-leaning news sites but I think even that, I'm going to cut down on. This is because I now truly believe the thing I said for years I would never believe--that no politician of either party will ever truly effect positive change.

3. Try to do good, concretely. While can't do a goddamn thing about Iraq or Darfur, for example, I can do little things in my own community. I live in a fairly wealthy area where there are an increasing number of homeless, along with people with homes who can't afford both heating oil and food. So I can bring food to our local food pantry. I can volunteer when they serve meals. I can gather up clothes and coats and shoes we no longer use, and I can bring them there so they can give them out to people who have much less than we do. And I can try to reduce our family's energy footprint by bringing my own bags to the supermarket, replacing our old lightbulbs with the newer, more efficient ones, and simply trying not to buy more plastic crap than we truly need. Oh, and not driving too much, which we already do a pretty good job at.

4. Read more, eat healthier, drink red wine, see friends, get outside. Enjoy life. Enough said.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I have no idea how this happened

but in less than three weeks I'm going to be 39 years old. It's unnerving how you turn around one day and go, holy crap, somewhere along the line I managed to get old. I can't look at myself in the mirror anymore when I am holding the Peanut, because the contrast of her glowing, gorgeous, pore-free golden skin (thanks to her mix of Asian/Mediterranean skin tones) with my, well, almost-39-year-old skin, makes me look like the Crypt Keeper.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The test of time

Once you've been friends with someone for 10 or 15 or 20 years, the friendship develops concentric circles, like a tree. You share a common history from many distinct stages of your life, and if you're very lucky, new histories emerge and you retain the richness of the connection you've shared over the years, while layering new memories over the old.
I think of this often when I get to spend time with some old friends who I don't see all that often, as Mr. Fraulein and I were able to do this weekend. The couple who came to see us, bringing their 3- and almost-7-year-old girls in tow, have been part of my life since before they were even a couple. Their relationship began and strengthened during pool parties in my parents' backyard in the 90s. We shared college connections and friend-of-co-worker connections. Other friends came into and out of the group over the years. People broke up; others got married and had kids. The circles broke apart, then re-formed.
And here we were all these many years and crises and joys later, three kids giggling and singing and refusing to go to sleep in the back bedroom, howling with laughter over things that happened a million lifetimes ago.
Writing new histories. Adding new circles.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Eventually, Christmas catalogs will show up in June

The Christmas shopping gods have not been smiling on me this year. Of course, since I don't have a huge family, it's not like I'm buying for 40 people, but still...I started my online shopping, catalog-calling, and mall-visiting right after Thanksgiving, as I always do. I should have figured something would go wrong this year, though, when the catalogs started arriving before Halloween. (Every year it gets earlier.)

And that's when the denials and qualifications started coming in. Want a hat and gloves for a little boy? In red? Whoever heard of such a thing! You would have thought I was searching for, I don't know, a life size statue of a penguin or something. The little red hat and gloves took several stores' worth of searching to unearth. Want a tie for another little boy? That's backordered until February. Here's your Christmas present, kid -- oh, and happy Valentine's Day!

Don't even get me started on the kids' fancy holiday outfits. These, you must buy in August, if you expect to find your child's size in stock. It's the same phenomenon I've noticed with kids' bathing suits -- if you shop for those much later than May, you're shit out of luck.

Now I need to find a whistling tea kettle for my mom, which I'm expecting to find at Kohl's, but still, you never know. I'll probably go in there this week and find nothing but tumbleweeds and a couple of broken ornaments on the floor, like in Cindy Lou Who's house after the Grinch stole everything.

Photo credit: "Christmas Shopping" by Lisa Kibble (This woman's artwork is really cool -- check it out!)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Your Republican party

Can we expect to see a Willie Horton-style commercial skewering Mike Huckabee for this atrocity?

My guess is no, because the Democratic party never, ever fights back. Here's an issue handed to them on a silver platter -- the Republicans are supposed to be the tough-on-crime party, right? -- and I'd bet my whole bank account that they won't touch it. They wouldn't want to seem impolite.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Wrong on about six levels

The asshats at the "Weekly Standard" have done a cover story on England's Conservative party titled "Not Your Father's Tories." According to Blogging Woolf, the cover illustration that goes with this story is a picture of Virginia Woolf wearing, for some incomprehensible reason, an ice hockey uniform.

Where to begin with how wrong this is? How about the fact that she and the rest of the Bloomsbury circle were so far to the left that they'd be considered Communists today? If I had to guess, I'd say the magazine chose to make the Woolf reference because her famous father, Sir Leslie Stephen, was marginally more conservative, but even this I'd say is a stretch. A prime example of journalists not bothering to do any research and not caring that they look stupid as a result.

UPDATE: Blogging Woolf has run a correction -- it turns out the Virginia-in-an-ice-hockey-uniform graphic is not supposed to be linked to the story about the Tories, but to a review of a book called "The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm." This makes sense, because of Woolf's famous remark that "human character changed" in 1910.

The ice hockey outfit is still a mystery, however.