Saturday, December 26, 2009

Be careful what you dream of

As I survey the scene outside my window this morning, with strains of White Christmas running through my head, I want to throw something at Bing Crosby.

A snowball, maybe. With a rock in it.

OK, I'm not that vindictive, and poor old Bing is long gone and not responsible for the landscape of gray (in the sky) and white (everything else) that spreads before me. And I'm sure his - and songwriter Irving Berlin's - intentions were fine. But this season's very white Christmas in my city is a reminder to idealists such as myself that sometimes when things that seem lovely in theory become real, the devil really is in the details.

"... where the treetops glisten..." lovely when it happens, but requires sunlight, which this morning is masked by a cover of thick gray clouds. No glistening in these parts today.

"... and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow..." no neighbor kids out and about - too cold, and the snow piles are taller than many of them. And if there were sleigh bells to be heard their sound would be overwhelmed by shovels, snow blowers and the spinning of car wheels attempting to escape curbside drifts.

"with every Christmas card I write..." unless you run out of stamps and don't feel sufficiently confident in your driving skills to go out for more in the freezing drizzle that preceded the snow.

"may your days be merry and bright..." okay, it's back to the theoretical, but I'll go with that one.

"and may all your Christmases be white...." NOOOOO!

Not that there aren't some positive outcomes of this holiday snow-blast. I don't actually have to be anywhere in particular for the next few days. I did get to enjoy some time with my kids and their sweeties. The gym is closed (a detail over which I spill no tears today, although may come to regret after a weekend of holiday consumption) and my husband, more intrepid in driving through this stuff than I, fetched my daily latte for me.

Plus, I can afford the latte, as well as the gas to power the furnace that keeps me warm inside a house with a mortgage payment I also can afford, which makes me more fortunate than many - in fact, makes my life what many others still dream of.

But still, it's not what I was dreaming of last time I sang along with Bing.

How any of this might be applied to larger issues of the day -- health care reform, climate change action, war surges, what to do about the whole lot of screaming blowhards on both sides of the aisle in Congress and all over cable tv -- I will leave to others who know far more than I about the actual details of worthy ambitions with many thorny complications.

I just know that after experiencing the reality of an actual white Christmas and the details that came with it, I'll take a pass on this particular dream in the future.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pretty good after all

It's cold and dark (even at midmorning) and a big winter storm is supposed to be blowing in. We passed the winter solstice earlier this week so daylight is hard to come by anyway. I'm off work for holiday break - ok, that's good - with tons of work to do in the interim - oh well.

Against this backdrop, the phone rang this morning. It was a woman from the specialty division of my pharmacy - I have a chronic medical condition that (knock on wood) doesn't much slow me down but does require daily injections of phenomenally expensive specialty medication to hold it at bay. The pharmacy lady calls every month to quiz me on my progress and order a refill on my behalf.

She launched into her usual round of questions. In the last 30 days have you missed any doses? (no) Have you had any side effects? (no) Any unusual reactions? (no) Any relapses of your condition? (no) Any falls? (no) Any other problems? (no).

As we concluded the conversation I realized she'd just taken me through a Christmas Eve counting of my blessings.

I'm bumping along just fine, as are my family members. We all have jobs and roofs over our heads, with running water, electricity and furnaces that work. If the promised snowy deluge occurs, it's Christmas, I can choose to just stay inside, safe and warm. If the power goes out, I have a flashlight and blankets. I have medical insurance to pay the lion's share of that gold-plated prescription.

Truly, good fortune I should not take for granted. Plus, we gained a minute of daylight today.

It's a pretty good day after all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Christmas Twetter

Following is excerpted from what I mailed to part of my Christmas card list before I ran out of stamps and then ran out of time...

* * * *
Another year flown by, one in which the pace of change is beyond the ability of my arteriosclerotic brain cells to comprehend. We are now the old people at the neighborhood block parties. I’ve never heard of anyone under age 50 in the celebrity birthday lists. My children are both beyond the age Bob Dylan famously decreed untrustworthy. Wallowing in the retrospectives prompted by the death of Walter Cronkite this past July, I realized my sensibilities are so deeply rooted in the last century I must do something to remain relevant in the current one.

So I joined Facebook and opened a Twitter account. The latter, of course, is the social media platform that requires you to speak your mind in no more than 140 characters. You might guess that’s difficult for me, and you’d be right. So why not use the annual Holiday Letter to practice? Thus I present…

Our Year In Tweets

Son Rob moved out of our house and into his own apartment. Took his dog, too. I missed the dog so I got my own.

New dog Otis is a rescue. A sweet Boston terrier who burrows in bed. Don’t know why his previous owners gave him up. Don’t care. He’s mine now.

Rob’s new place is 2 minutes from work (at Boulevard Brewery) and 2 blocks from 39th St. food and fun. Nice!

Jen still nannying, and now has therapeutic massage license. Teaming up with local massage/skin care group for weekend clients. Hooray!

Took Otis to dog school. He learned to sit and stay (sometimes). I learned it’s more about training the person, not the dog.

Tom’s 09 motorcycle trip: Four Corners (UT, CO, AZ, NM). On newer, bigger, noisier motorcycle. Good time had by all, including me by myself at home.

Still going to gym 6 days a week, sometimes 7. Doesn’t work as well as it used to, though. Could it be my addiction to baked goods?

Still singing in the shower, but lately, not in the choir. Too tired by Thursday night to go to practice. This is good news for the choir and the congregation.

Attended 40th HS reunion – my first reunion ever. Beyond gray hair and wrinkles of old classmates, not much has changed. Glad I went. Won’t go again.

Many HS classmates are now retired. How about me? Tired old body says yes. Bank account – uh, no.

Got an iPhone this year and learned to text and play e-scrabble with son. It’s fun! Wreaks havoc with spelling, though.

In my final year in college, a traveling exhibit of the future of personal computing visited our journalism school. In those days we banged out stories for the school newspaper on typewriters and literally cut (like, with scissors) and pasted (or taped) the paper to move paragraphs around – or just started over retyping. Seeing the demonstration of highlighting a piece of text and moving it around electronically made quite an impression on me – it was magic! Never could I have dreamed that 35 years later, not only would I likewise be doing electronic cutting and pasting, I would actually be willing to use “friend” as a verb. Perhaps this is progress, although I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that even if I don’t often have occasion to see or talk with many annual Holiday Letter recipients, I think of you often and it pleases me greatly that I have the honor of sharing time on the planet with you. I am indeed grateful -- and I do mean grateful, not gr8fl – for many blessings of my life, and knowing you is one of them.

Merriest Christmas and Happiest New Year to you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dinner for one

Thursday is my husband's golf or bowling night, depending on the season, with his friends. That leaves me home alone with the glorious opportunity to do whatever I want.

Now, I realize that makes me sound as though I am an oppressed little woman whose other evenings are dictated by her man. Not so. In fact, very much not so. For one thing, I'm not at all little, but more to the point, neither one of us hovers over or makes many time demands of the other. He does most of the cooking (in self-defense -- we'd starve on my cooking ability) and I do most of the cleaning up (likewise in self-defense -- he's the messiest cook ever) so mostly what's for dinner is up to him and that's fine with me.

But when I head home from the office on Thursday evenings I look forward to dinner for one, of whatever I want, with no compromises to make to someone else's tastes or desires. Sometimes it's a giant bowl of popcorn or Cheerios. Sometime it's fried eggs (over easy). Sometimes it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Tonight it was a particularly strange combination of carrot sticks, Triscuits and spinach dip left over from last weekend's guests, and fresh baked honey biscuits with dried cranberries mixed in.

Life requires so many compromises. Where to set the thermostat, what color to paint the wall, what to do with the tax refund, what movie to see (or not). All of that necessary to get along peaceably with others, which is a pretty big thing with me.

But sometimes it's nice to just put my feet up, find an episode of Law & Order on a cable channel somewhere, and enjoy the spinach dip and honey biscuits.