• family,  friends,  knitting,  relationships,  spinning,  wedding

    2011 Holidays

    Christmas was a quiet affair filled with good friends and family, which is what it’s all about. I made out with some very thoughtful loot and ate slightly more than my body weight in cookies.

    But I have prevailed; the cookies are all dead. In my belly.

    I enjoy the week between Christmas and New Years an awful lot because it is so quiet. After all the hustle and bustle of lights, tree, cooking, family, etc., it becomes almost necessary downtime. The trains are quiet, nearly everyone is gone from the office, and I have no excuses for not getting a great deal done. As a productivity nut and worker bee, this makes me very happy. As a person with an exciting life to write about, well, not so much. But it’s been a nice quiet. I’ve been able to conquer the world in Civilization get some writing projects done, master some Bach and finish some big projects that have been hanging over my head at work. It’s a nice feeling.

    I see other bloggers out there doing lists of what they’d like to do next year. It’s made me think about some of the highlights of this year. This year, I:

    – got engaged to the love of my life (this is a celebration, not an accomplishment)
    – actually managed to get good enough at the piano to be able to sight read stuff where the left hand does more than play chords. Slowly, mind.
    – learned how to fox trot, to rhumba, to merengue
    – learned that if fox trotting, rhumbaing or merenguing with a 6’3″ man, heels are a good idea. Otherwise, neck injury occurs.
    – (self)published a knitting pattern
    – had the realization that not being my skinniest weight ever does not, in fact, make me a bad person
    – watched my ward pull in grades higher than he thought possible on his report card, despite having skipped most of two years of school a few years back.
    – adopted a house hippy. Everyone should have one.
    – learned to rip up carpet and stained all the wood for a new staircase in a weekend
    – went to a spinning convention and actually learned how to spin yarn that looks like yarn
    – fell in love with the mountains of eastern Oregon and took some awesome pictures
    – bought a cowboy hat
    – knit multiple sweaters, learned to not hate knitting socks and designed a few more things on my own
    – have actually done a little bit of wedding planning, despite hating it like you wouldn’t believe
    – actually genuinely enjoyed the holidays for a third year running

    It has, all in all, been a good year. We are all safe and happy and the family grew again this year (see the house hippy aspect). I am filled with gratitude and can only marvel at my good luck. Life is good; my only goal for next year is to keep it good.

    Happy New Year everyone. Let’s make 2012 even more filled with light than 2011.

  • family,  feminism,  introspection,  relationships

    Weddings for Feminists

    I am clearly not a stereotypical bride. In the three weeks in which I have been engaged, I’ve started doing some research in wedding planning that is driving me nuts. This began with signing up for theknot.com so that I could access their checklists. The Knot presents you with a nearly 200 item checklist that is largely presumed to be my responsibility. Because I’m the bride, which means that apparently I’m meant to have been dreaming about my wedding day for my entire life. (Hint: never once thought about it.) I’m meant to have a vision and colors and some dream about a dress style, all of which makes me want to have no wedding at all, because it sounds like a lot of expensive work that I can pretty easily screw up by picking the wrong napkins, etc. It all makes me pretty grumpy, but I am a fan of ceremonies and rituals to mark the important events in your life and I love seeing my family, so we’re going to have one anyway.

    Weddings, in their default traditional state, are pretty creepy. It’s probably no surprise that the heavily orchestrated gender roles of the process are giving me trouble. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on how to make my wedding awesome instead. I refuse to degrade my friends with the whole bouquet/garter toss and I would prefer both of my parents to walk me down the aisle, if only that were possible. I’d like a drum circle and dancing until the wee hours. I don’t want a groom’s side and a bride’s side – I just want our friends and family together, for a day filled with love and joy. It is a day for two families to come together, a day where I will not just make my fiancĂ© my family, but also his family. It’s the day where he officially becomes part of mine. And that’s where I want the focus to be, not on the price tag of my dress or the rings.

    We want something that’s authentic to us, which doesn’t sync very well at all with the traditional ceremony. Above all, I don’t want it to be boring. People will be paying a lot of money to come to our wedding, since most of our relations and childhood friends are far away, and I want to make sure they have a good time and talk about it for years.

    No pressure there. None at all.

  • family,  relationships

    Family Changes

    What a month!

    About a month ago, I took my kid brother into my house and set about the business of raising a teenager. Although strange at first, this has gone surprisingly well, and it’s been just delightful having a young mind around the house. I really enjoy his different perspective. Even if the spaghetti I made for dinner sometimes ends up on the carpet. And my socks. And pants. (Really, I thought the spaghetti throwing stage was supposed to be over at a much younger age. Perhaps the aim just improves.)

    Two weeks ago, I had news that my maternal grandmother was not doing very well. She seemed to have suffered a stroke and the reports were dire. As such, I caught the next flight to Wisconsin that I possible could and spent the weekend at the retirement home where she was being made comfortable. On Friday, she had stopped breathing for a few minutes – by Sunday she was eating a little and speaking a little. We are all somewhat amazed at the robustness of the human body and – more specifically – of Grandma.

    I did leave the kiddo with my lovely boyfriend – and reports are that they got on just fine all weekend and did not miss me one bit. Harrumph.

    Sometimes I look at my life a year, even two years ago, and I just can’t reconcile it to where it is today. It seems like ever since I got the call telling me my mom was sick, life has decided to keep throwing things at me that I never imagined for myself. The last two years have been an incredible roller coaster, but the sort that ends at the top of the hill, not the bottom. There have been dips and bumps along the way, but on the whole, it’s looking up.

    Coming home each night to family is very, very nice.

  • new york,  ocean,  relationships

    The Season

    New York has something called The Season, which I’d never experienced before moving here. It starts on Memorial Day, lasts until Labor Day, and means that you go to the beach as much as possible. You sip teas and take things slower. You go to your timeshare on Fire Island or in the Hamptons or Montauk. You wear white and walk the streets of Manhattan slowly, languorously, browsing sales and famers’ markets.

    You smile a lot more.

    But still, I think the thing I love best about The Season in the town where I live are little things like going out to fancy restaurants and finding that everyone is still in sandals and flip flops, because you just can’t bother to put on socks for any occasion.

    I just adore this time of year.

  • art,  feminism,  new york,  ocean,  relationships,  travel

    Patton Oswalt, Stomp and the Opening Comedian

    red-wineThis weekend was very busy, since I was entertaining a friend that was visiting from out of town. The highlight was seeing Patton Oswalt who is an absolutely brilliant comedian from Sterling, Virginia (Virginia pride, whoo!). You probably wouldn’t like him if crude language offends you, but he has some very smart things to say. It was cool to see him live.

    Less cool was the opening comedian, who referred to all the women in his jokes as bitches, which was particularly depressing since most of the audience responded well to it. Apparently jokes about how completely stupid and useless women are are still in. I’m prefer smart comedy, not just meanness, so he was kind of a boring boor. But a boor with a very happy audience, which made me want to hide my head in the sand for the rest of my life. It made me drink far too much Shiraz, too.

    Fortunately, we went to see Stomp before my hangover, which was pretty cool. The idea behind it is that you can make rhythm from the most ordinary objects. Once you have enough people involved, this becomes really cool. Rhythm is such an essential part of being alive and is absolutely everywhere when you stop to listen for it – in language, in the sounds of our vehicles, in the waves of the ocean. Being able to hear and respond to rhythm is so intrinsic to what makes us such amazing creatures — when we can manage to treat each other with respect, that is.

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