Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

A few years ago, my family started drawing names for "secret Santa" Christmas gifts among the siblings and their significant others. The "secret" part never lasts long, as someone invariably slips up, word spreads, and then we all start trying to unravel the mystery, much to my mother's chagrin. I'm not sure why the secrecy is part of the equation, but I'm happy to keep it, mainly for the unraveling challenge.

My sister, Erin, drew my name this year and she showered me with these lovely gifts that totally feed into my India obsession and left me feeling ever so merry on Christmas Day. So merry, in fact, I wore a sari to Christmas dinner and was quite happy for the excuse.

Hoorah for Indian spices and a spirit of culinary adventure!

Gorgeous trivet.
Equally gorgeous tea towel that no grimy fingers better ever soil.

Fabulous apron that coordinates beautifully with my plum and tangerine colored kitchen.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Found and Lost and Found Again

I spent most of Saturday searching through files on my computer, looking for a cover letter I had written over a year ago. Buried about five sub-folders deep, I came across a file labeled "Creative Writing." I had forgotten all about it.


Two years ago, I was cleaning out the spare bedroom closet when I decided to go through a box that had been stashed there since we moved in to the house in 2002. I had always assumed it was my husband's stuff, but this day opened it up, determined to toss whatever was there. If it hadn't been missed since 2002, it would probably never be missed, I reasoned, in an unsentimental moment rare for a "saver" like me.

Turns out, the box was mine and contained all my graduate school papers that I had worried were long gone. In it, I also found a file of various undergrad creative writing projects. These included some pretty funny skits assigned in a Lit class, one featuring a game of bowling between Don Quixote,  Socrates, and Deirdre of the Sorrows. I spent the rest of the day laughing my way through the vast amount of poetry found (Ah, youthful angst: I don't miss you). After transferring all of it to the PC, I had set this folder up, deliberately sinking it deep in my file system, where I promptly forgot all about it (Ah, middle age: You suck). 

Most of the poems I found are beyond dreadful and will never, ever see the light of day again. But I did find one simple poem that I love enough to share. I remember writing it. I was in my early twenties, in a creative writing course at the local community college. I don't remember the specifics of the assignment, but I wrote about memories of playing with my younger sister as a child.  I don't share it now as some amazing literary find, believe me. But it does make me pine for simplicity. Reading it again now, as a mom, watching my sister's and my own children play, the memories are both farther away and closer than ever.

Little Sister 
(for Nicki)

In Summer,
I crush pink petals 
To my wrist,
And check for perfume.
You sacrifice lightening bugs
To your arms
--and glow--
A superhero.
We check our necks
With buttercups,
And wonder if we
Can smell Sun.

In Winter,
We put plastic bags on our feet
--we think we'll be warmer.
We can smell snow
Like we can smell Christmas.
And we hate being cold,
But we love being
Seeing purple spots,
And trying to remember
The smell of Sun.

Nicki and me in 1972.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Everyone Else Is Doing It, Why Not Me?

Over the years, I have learned to avoid New Year's resolutions. I know myself well enough to realize that creating a list of resolves, much less telling anyone about them, is little more than a written guarantee that exactly none of them will see the light of day.  As self-imposed, arbitrary deadlines slip by, I lower my expectations little by little until "read Finnegan's Wake" becomes "read anything more substantial than a fortune cookie" and "lose 20 pounds" devolves to "buy new Spanx."

It's not that I don't have goals. I'm always working towards something, but I like to keep the details to myself. Or, to be more accurate, I like to keep the details from myself. I'm certainly no anarchist, but I'm just rebellious enough to buck my own system. This is why my home school schedule is not a detailed chart of days, times and subjects, but one sentence: "Be done by lunch." It works. For now. 

This year, I've decided to jump on the bandwagon. I made a resolution to make some resolutions. But, instead of instantly feeling crushed by my own unrealistic expectations, I'm ignoring the usual guidelines for making goals that are "specific, achievable, and measurable." I'm going for vague. And just maybe I'll vaguely accomplish them.

Pray more.
Stress less.

Read more.
Surf less.

Write more.
Doubt less. 

Dance more.
Eat less.

Sing more.
Whine less.

Notice more.
Regret less.

And be done by lunch. Someday.