Friday, December 31, 2010

Checking on the Innie

So, 2010, you're about to leave us.

I can't say I'm as pleased to see you go as I was about 2009 — that bastard, painful, disappointing year. Though frankly, that's only how 2009 ended; a large part of that year was filled with hope and positive change that lifted my spirits high only to have them crashing down in various places. Perhaps I give 2009 a bad rap ... and 2010, you, too, had your own moments (six months of them) of pain, sobbing, and deep dark places.

Two thousand ten is the year I turned 30 — and suffered the out-of-nowhere life crisis and mental anguish that comes with hitting a milestone and not seeing yourself where you expected to be. I end it still in San Francisco, still single, still renting and still living paycheck-to-paycheck.

However, 2010 is the year I've felt most comfortable with myself in a long time. It took nine months (and a road trip to Portland, Seattle and back), but now I'm ... well, "resigned" isn't the right word, sounds too negative; perhaps "happy" is better, almost accurate: I'm happy with where I am in life, in career, social life, even location. It's not New York — San Francisco can never be New York, and all it represents to me what with the memories and the mood and the amazing friends I have there — but San Francisco is certainly no longer a place I am unhappy to be "stuck" in. I have friends here that are amazing, a job here that is amazing, and family at a conveniently distant closeness that includes a nephew to spoil and play with, and siblings I can do things with, and drama enough to keep me entertained with relatively little frustration. There's really only one thing missing from my life here, and a move to New York doesn't even guarantee that I will get that ... plus, I lose out on the family part.

This doesn't mean, sir, that I will never move back east — I still want to — but it does mean that I'm no longer going to try to initiate that relocation on my own. If life throws something in my lap, or dangles an opportunity, then yes: I'm gone, City by the Bay. But until then ... My One True Love, we'll be together for visits. And we'll always have 2003/04. And really, all you have to do is lift a finger, and I'll be there ...

Back in January, I wrote down a few resolutions or goals for my 2010 year. I'd like to think that for the most part, I kept them. Not perfectly, of course: my second resolution, to fill those empty parts of my life, hasn't been fully accomplished ... but I do feel less empty than I did 12 months ago. I'm not the weight I was when I came back from NY, but I still feel healthier and more active than I have in ages. I don't have full financial stability, but enough confidence in myself that I'm looking forward to making my first major purchase next year (a new car: Baby's on her last legs, I think). So, I think these same goals are good ones to keep for the coming year, with a few adjustments:

1) Keep living for others; also, act on 2010's big lesson: friendships take work. I want to work harder at keeping in touch with the good people in my life, the ones I want to stick around. Facebook status updates aren't really enough, so I'll try harder to email or even call the friends I haven't talked to in a long time, the ones I actually miss.

2) Keep working on filling that hole in my life. You know who you are, emptiness.

3) Keep trying to live healthier: in body, mind, and money. I'm on my way there, sort of: opened an ING account to stash away some savings for emergencies/trips/etc., and just opened an account at a credit union so that I can escape the eviller one of the two banks that currently have my money.

Adding a couple more:

4) Get a web design certification. It's something I've been interested in for years, and my boss was able to ask around and get some input on classes/knowledge that would be helpful both for my current job and to satisfy my own curiosity/desire to know.

5) Start an Etsy shop. I just finished going through my yarn stash, and even with throwing out a few pounds of it, I still have a lot. It would be nice to have my hobby pay for itself a little bit. Even if it's just a few dollars here and there ... and I can use my new skills from the resolution above to better design my website.

Two thousand eleven, I think I'm ready for you, and I'm glad you're here. Two thousand ten, you'll be missed, but I'm not terribly sorry to see you go.

Happy New Year, friends, family, internet strangers. Thank you for being here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Glaze Makes It Kosher for Christmas


The fortune cookie from today's dinner at the Green Elephant promises that "Your dearest wish will come true."

I take heart from that, even if it is just a slip of paper.

It's by now an annual occurrence, my mom announcing that we are "cutting back" on Christmas that year. And perhaps we did this year, in that we cut back on "junk" presents — useless tchotchkes — but with a nephew/grandson that needed spoiling, I don't think we really cut back on the amount of wrapped gifts under the tree.

Yes, his dad bought him a car for Christmas. Note the height of the pile of presents visible in the background. There was the stuff under the tree and in my parents' suitcases.

Since my parents flew in from Paris (I know, poor them) late night on Christmas Eve, we stayed in as an immediate family on Christmas Day instead of joining the extendeds at their various dinners and such. I made my glazed ham, Nicole made potatoes gratin, Jackie surprised us all with a more-than-edible corn bread souffle thing, and Mom got to nap all day long after the present-opening orgy while Dad watched basketball.

Hard at work, making pie.

I know a lot of people really hate this time of year: the crowds at the mall, the stress, the family (or lack thereof), the traveling, the spending, the weather, everything. But I kind of like Christmas, maybe more than any good Jewish girl should. I love the colder temperatures, the excuse to see people and have gatherings and share food. I almost even like the music, in small doses. (Which is why I completely avoid the local radio station that plays nothing but Christmas songs from November 1 through Christmas Day. Too much of a good thing.) To be honest, I even really like spending time with my family ... but shh! don't tell them that.


Happy holidays, everyone. I hope your Christmas/Giftmas/Yuletide celebration (or uncelebration) was full of happiness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Down to the Silver Bells

Watching a lot of Netflix lately, I've just had an epiphany: Nickelodeon's Aaahh! Real Monsters = the inspiration for J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series? Think about the parallels:
  1. The main character set for each consists of three youngsters — two males and a female — at a boarding school to learn the craft of their bloodline/secret community.
  2. Of the three characters: one is from a poor family with a father that has a little-respected job; one is from a more well-off family, female, and studies hard to be at the top of the class; and one is the son of a famous member of the community who is well-known for his exploits against the common enemy (humans/Death Eaters), and has great things expected of him despite often not being the best student.
  3. This last character often suffers from the pressure of his legacy/heritage. There are also indications that this student is chosen or marked for something greater.
  4. The headmaster for each world's school, even though he's male, tends towards some effeminate/ambiguous empathies, behaviors and tastes.
  5. The main punishment figure (Real Monsters: the Snorch; Harry Potter: Argus Filch) has a pet/companion that acts as spy and communicates back to him when it catches students doing wrong.
  6. The students are often confused by normal human/"Muggle" items that they come across.
  7. The plot often revolves around the students getting into trouble/exploring places they shouldn't be, and/or saving the day unexpectedly via their combined talents.

Or perhaps I'm thinking about this too much. Still ... it's suspicious.

It's almost the end of December. Part of me is blown away, wondering how it can already be on the cusp of Christmas. I've been knitting like mad, frustrated at an attempt at a gift that fell through at the last minute, trying hard to avoid too much overeating ... but despite all this, I've been happy.

The year is suddenly almost over, yes. But even with six months spent in perhaps the darkest place I've been to in over a decade, I can't say I'm disappointed by it. I should probably save the review for another post — one where I have more time to compose and talk and analyze a bit. There are still things I want fixed, gaps that need filling or bridging. I'd like to think, however, that I'm doing better. Just a little.

Time now for sleep. I have a long day tomorrow: 8 a.m. dental appointment, followed by a late day at the office (working until 7 p.m.) and then dinner with Amber of Holiday Party fame.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Killer Fluffy Bitch: A Chlode

This has not been a good year for dogs in my family.

It's been four days since Chloe, our Killer Fluffy Bitch, died, and I'm still having problems saying something about it. Perhaps what disturbs me the most is the lack of feeling: I have hardly cried, but I also can hardly believe she is gone.


Chloe was an impulse purchase by my mother and youngest sister. She was just a little ball of fluff at first, but had no qualms about showing everyone that she was the boss. She nipped at ankles, attacked my hair, and charmed all of us in an instant. (Except for maybe Luke.) Only two people could never do any wrong in her eyes: my dad (the pack alpha), and my brother.

My brother was still practically a baby back when we adopted Chloe — only just five years old — and they grew up together, she gradually becoming both his (fourth) surrogate mother and his best friend. She was the only one that could wake him up on school mornings, and I'm pretty sure she was the only member of the family that he really missed when he went away to college.

Her long hairs shed constantly, leaving the entire house buried under a thin film of fur at all times, starting two minutes after any cleaning. I often came home from visiting the family with traces of her covering my legs.

The straight woman to our goofy chocolate lab, Chloe was the dignified member of the family — not a lady, not at all, but a gentlewoman full of the need for dignity, and willing to be violent to get it.

She defended house and home with a mighty bark, kept Luke in line with tooth and claw, but otherwise she tried her best to be dainty, crossing her front paws delicately to lie down, the quiet dog in the room. Watching our antics with a tolerant air, sometimes forgetting herself if the play seemed to fun or if there was good food involved. She would only just deign to do any tricks to earn her daily pig's ear, but from time to time you could coax a free "bisou" out of her if she was in the mood.

While Luke, who was a year older than she was, died slowly, lingering on for months and months, Chloe was here and then suddenly gone. The last time I saw her, I knew she was starting to go downhill, but I never expected it to be now. I thought I had at least a few more weekends, a few more bisous left out of that bitch.

Wherever you are, pretty girl, I hope it suits you royally.

Chloe. Sept. 24, 1995 - Dec. 11, 2010.

Ah. There are the tears.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Childhood Disease

So it seems that the punishment for having a good time is the common cold — it can't be (had damned well better not be) the flu, since I got my shot for that a couple of weeks ago.

I was so out of it yesterday when I came home early from the office, in the middle of the afternoon, that all I wanted to do was watch cartoons and drink tea. Meaning that my brand new TV got a great workout, as did my Netflix Watch Instantly account. I curled into bed, waved my controller and went straight to the Children/Family section.

The movie I settled on? The Care Bears Movie II. Go ahead. Laugh. But — and perhaps this is the disease or the DayQuil talking — I'll be damned if it wasn't actually a coherent — nay, decent — work of cinema.

Seriously. Sure, the animation was cheap, and it did have several cheesy synthy songs (hey, it was the 80s). But there was a semi-sophisticated deal-with-the-Devil plotline, with a lesson that even the most evil of evildoers has a spark of good within them. There was actual character development, of a sort. And the cheesy songs managed to veer away from becoming an annoying detraction from the plotline, and instead were more of a good opportunity to refill my cup of tea while a plot point was moved forward.

Granted, it's no Beauty and the Beast. But it certainly beat out The Swan Princess, which is a thorough piece of crap; I only made it through the first 40 minutes before having to turn that shit off.

Another movie that I recommend after this current bout of sickness: Penelope. Trust me, this one beats out even Care Bears II.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kosher Ham for Hanukkah

Can it be considered a house-warming party, if it happens four years after you move in?

Probably not. But while I have had a couple of smaller evening events at my place before (last New Year's Eve, and a fondue party in 2008), this is the first time I've invited and had a large crowd of people coming in and out of my tiny studio apartment.

And from all appearances, it was successful. At least, that's how I feel — I hope my guests feel the same way, too. Because this means I'm probably going to have another one next year: be warned.

In true, typical Jewish-(grand)mother-in-training style, I had a lot of food. I mean, a lot. There were even things I didn't bring out of the fridge due to lack of space, or just plain ol' forgetfulness. Seriously. For instance, I don't know what I'm going to do with a CostCo-sized box of crackers.

Some highlights:
  • Being asked a couple times where I got my ham ... and then getting to tell people I glazed it myself.
  • Getting to see Amber, a friend from high school that I haven't seen in over a decade, again.
  • Realizing that I had so much beer I wouldn't be able to put any new arrivals into the fridge with the rest ... resulting in my leaving six packs scattered around the apartment.
  • Having Laura and Jeremy under my roof at the same time, which hasn't happened in almost a year. (I haven't seen either of them in almost that long, too.)
  • Watching friends who haven't been to my place before get amused by others using the window as an entrance instead of the door.
  • During my explanation of Hanukkah for the gentiles just before we lit the Menorah, I realized I was turning into my father with his welcoming speeches.
  • Recognizing that I have a lot more friends than I give myself credit for.

Some pictures:
Holiday Open House
Trying to find room in the fridge for more beer

Holiday Open House
General action shot, early on in the party

Holiday Open House
My friends appearing to think too hard, later in the party

Holiday Open House
Magnet poetry, randomly left on the fridge

Everyone who came: thank you so much! It wouldn't have been the same without you, and I'm glad everyone seemed to enjoy mingling with each other. To those of you who couldn't make it this year: you were missed, and I hope you can make it next time.

Though, looking at how much alcohol I have leftover from this event, I might have to have another party soon just to get rid of it. Darn, how unfortunate.