shoebox_dw: (i need a hug)
[sigh] Were the back-from-vacation blues supposed to kick in this early? I was having a ton of fun yesterday, unpacking and looking at downloaded pictures and cataloguing smuggled American chocolates (oh, Dove, why must you stint the Canadian market so?)..then I woke up today, and looked out at the grim winter gloom, and suddenly...

I suppose it's understandable in one sense: namely, the 'tomorrow I have to get up and face the cold dark Monday commute all over again' sense. I love summer, and I love how summer makes me feel - 'happy and aimless and idle and pagan', as per Annie Sullivan. I don't like the feeling of being confined by the weather again.

But that's not what seems to be uppermost. What's really bugging is a sense of having done something different, unusual, out of the daily grind, for a short two weeks...and now here we are again. I am just not feeling very interesting, today. Not so much in terms of my writing (although I will confess to having hyped myself up a little in re: coming home to find an email from PopMatters, since the editor mentioned considering submissions over the holiday break). know that Barenaked Ladies song, Pinch Me? "On an evening such as this/It's hard to tell if I exist"? Like that.

Yes, I know this is basically a self-pity fit. Also, that I've brought a lot of it on myself. I look back at my entries for 2008 and see a whole lot of wishing and hoping and excuses, but not so much with the going out and grabbing the brass ring by the tail, or whatever it is I'm supposed to do. There is procrastination, and then there is yours truly, brushing out the mane of the My Little Pony toy she got with a Happy Meal in West Virginia.

So this seems like as good a time as any to think about New Year's resolutions. I hereby resolve, this year, to stop yapping and start doing. To quit thinking of an hour spent reading people rambling on about how much they hate comic strips as time spent productively on the computer. Over the course of this year spent searching so haphazardly for a writing focus, I ran across one simple piece of advice that really resonated, from Toni Morrison: "Write the story only you could write." It shall be my mission, in 2009, to find that story and commit it to, er, MS Word.

Meanwhile, to all the friends and other readers who've stuck by me and my pretensions thus far, you are either completely crazy or...well, yeah, you're completely crazy, and I love you for it. Here's hoping we all land at the bottom of the new year with our crazy intact.

I'm back.

Jan. 2nd, 2009 08:37 pm
shoebox_dw: (little mermaid)
I have a wicked sunburn, a baggie full of the shells that I swore I was not going to bother collecting this time, another bag of random outlet-mall tchotchkes that I am now eyeing warily from across the room trying to remember what they were, three hundred fifty or so sunset pictures with the horizon slightly crooked, and a half-eaten pack of Cracker Barrel caramel corn.

Plus enough field experience, mostly from that day I decided to walk all the way to the top of the island, to write an entire grad-school thesis on The American Tourist Goes to the Beach. Let us just say that this dovetailed rather unfortunately with my parallel inquiries into The Caloric Value of American Junk Food. Then there were the teeny Santa hats on the pink plastic flamingo wine stoppers...

In short, I had the most wonderful time.

Someday, I may even get around to recording more details, probably right after I tackle the mountain - strongly resembling the ones we drove thru at four-frelling-AM this morning - that is my f-list backlog. (For starters, It seems that [ profile] rj_anderson went and had a book released, and it is getting the fantastic reviews it richly deserves, so that's at least one Dance of Joy to be added to the list.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go take a well-earned vacation from getting back from my vacation.
shoebox_dw: (kitty fabulous)
Mom's best friend and her daughter about my age, whom I likewise adore, have gone in with us on a ten-day luxury condo rental on Anna Maria Island. Leaving Dec 22nd, returning Jan5th. This, as you may imagine, has me no end excited.

We haven't had a proper winter getaway vacation in years. The last two of those winters have been a relentless march of gray skies, and snow, and cold, sigh twice and repeat, ad nauseum. In the big city, this effect is magnified almost unbearably by the endless vistas of glass and concrete and steel.
I leave for work each morning in the cold and frozen dark, I come home in the cold and snowy dark, and there is no warm  welcoming surface anywhere. Indoors there is comfort, of course, but always shadowed with the knowledge that you're marooned there. This becomes especially pertinent when you're starving, surrounded by restaurants just a few too many cold minutes away, and all the caff has to offer is egg salad on white.

As you can see, it is imperative that I get away, for the sake of my prose if nothing else. What I really love about this trip is how adult it is. Not so much in terms of 'retirement community' as 'no costumed mice within fifty miles.' We are planning to drive down over the first weekend, and that's about as structured as it gets. At least, it will be if we can stave off the best friend's instinct to feed us every morning, noon, and night. She is Polish, so a firm line will be necessary. (Albeit we are not ruling out Shoemom's favourite white borscht.)

I am so seriously anticipating this vacation, that I am currently living off a diet of rice cakes and water, the better a) to look half-decent in the new bathing suit - something else I haven't given thought to in years! - and b) to take at least a little advantage of the truly astonishing array of American junk food. Specifically, those Dove chocolate-chip cookies I bought last time. Oh, and real key lime pie, can't forget that. It is a good thing the Eucharist does not involve key lime, else we here @ Shoe Central would be seriously considering conversion.

Thing is, I tend to put on weight squarely in my stomach and hips, so these two goals will be locked in perpetual conflict...but where there's a will, there's a way. *munches BBQ-flavoured rice cake with renewed conviction*

Also, there will be long walks among other 'quaint shops', and shell-hunting on the beach, and lying flopped in a beach chair with a good book and/or my iPod. I've bought the latest Patrick McManus and Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency just for the occasion, not to mention the new Bob & Ray bonanza. Just think, two blissful weeks of nobody having to hear about those two, except the people trapped in the immediate car with me. The fun, she is spreading. 
shoebox_dw: (garfield rabid moth)
The most hideously ear-sporking holiday song EVER in the HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE is that Jose Feliciano thing - can't really even call it a song, because all he does is like "I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas!" over and over and OVER until you are CHEWING PIECES OUT OF THE CAR SEAT ARRRRRGH.

...The only redeeming feature this thing has is that, after awhile, Shoemom will turn to me and say, very solemnly, "Y'know, I think he wants to wish us a Merry Christmas." Then we giggle. It's our little tradition.
shoebox_dw: (garfield schweitzer)
OK. As many of you may already know, Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas. The precise theological details can be obtained by making clicky with the link down and to your left.

In re: a question I see a lot around these cyber-parts, yes, it's entirely acceptable to give the Witnesses in your life a card along with everybody else. Just make sure that a) you know them well enough that they'll understand the motive behind the gesture is friendly, and b) the card is appropriately non-denominational (a lovely winter scene, say), and you're set.

Honestly, you needn't spend a lot of time feeling sorry for us this time of year. Because meanwhile we are staring around in frank awe, trying to figure out just why you-all enjoy it so much. Seriously.

I've worked major retail outlets many a Christmastime, people - another side benefit to our stance, lots of overtime on stat holidays! - and I'm here to tell you, the jolliness, from all appearances, it is a myth. Or at least, a wistful long-shot, rather like the precise sprinkle placement Martha Stewart gets on the cupcakes.
In terms of sheer guilt-induced looniness of expectation it can be topped only by the wedding industry. Maybe. When you're a bride, you at least get the consolation that it's all about you. At Christmas, by contrast, you get to run yourself ragged trying to meet the fondest needs of everybody else. Which as far as I can tell, even if you love them dearly, does not quite compensate for the loss of dignity inherent in screaming at the poor bookseller because she has just sold the last copy of The 25 Greatest NASCAR Sponsors of All Time. Or whatever.

Then, of course, there's the post-event afterglow. In the one case, snazzy vacation, lotsa hot sex; in the other, eighteen avant-garde cheese graters and that Elmo toy that when you walk past it, goes 'Awww, you don't wanna play with Elmo?" in that sad-clown way you have always hated and feared. You can't do anything about it, either, because this was little Suzy's gift from your in-laws. So you also now have confirmation that the big family dinner is going to be really tense.

The whole situation is best summed up by the bizarre movie Christmas With the Kranks, in which a random couple's desire to exercise their basic frelling free will is relentlessly steamrollered by an entire neighborhood of self-appointed Santa's Little Helpers. As far as I can tell, this thing was marketed without a trace of irony. (Neither was Fred Claus, but I think that had more to do with specific latent sadism on the part of those particular film-makers.)

The only defense - not unlike the one recommended for Martha and/or wedding plans - is to raise a wall of cynicism real quick. Thus the 'Carols I Hate' articles, the commercials based around how nobody ever looks forward to those family dinners...the deep sighs of envy when the Witness in the next cubicle over confesses that they never even heard of mincemeat.
Come to think of it, I don't think I've seen one unironic media mention of the holidays this year. Oh, except that one Hallmark commercial, but they have to lure you into a diabetic coma because that's the only state in which anyone would lay out $19.95 on a china gingerbread-house that blinks in tune with Jingle Bells.

It all makes for a rather pleasant holiday experience for all the wrong people. The one slight drawback, of course, is that we can't go near shopping malls past roughly November other words, not so much with the possibility of being crushed to death in Wal-Mart. Yeah, tough choice there.

OK, yes, I'm exaggerating. Those who have contrived to keep their holidays focussed on faith and/or the simple joys of family love and togetherness, I salute you wholeheartedly. Know that Witnesses strive for the same - just not necessarily on the 25th around a tree.

For this holiday season, I wish everyone happiness according to their lights, literal or otherwise. Mind, I'll be a safe distance off on the beach at the time.


Jan. 1st, 2008 08:49 pm
shoebox_dw: (lucy)
Public service announcement: I really must apologise to all - uh - [glances at statcounter] - any of the readership who may have unwittingly bought seats on the Great Bob & Ray Essay Kaleidoscope these past few weeks.
It started out as just your standard offhand blogger's appreciation I swear; but then an unexpected hit from a Los Angeles IP address started me thinking that it would probably be a good idea, when writing a public tribute, not to leave the impression that any live honourees were deceased. I got interested, and started researching, and realised I'd left out some really great details...well, you can imagine, after forty years there are a lot of details.

So the next thing I knew I was working on a full-fledged little article.
(Should anyone with a personal interest in fact be reading, I'd like to stop right here and say thanks. Not sure what for, specifically, but I have developed a very great need to thank somebody for those forty years.)

'Tennyrate, the really good news is that I've just added the very very last, finishing touches this afternoon. I think. Well, barring any shocking! revelations of late-night cavorting on the set of Bob & Ray & Jane & Laraine & Gilda, the SNL special they taped in the 70's...

...OK, getting grip once and for all. Seriously, as far as I can tell both Elliott and Goulding were perfect gentlemen at all times; even while throwing a spelling bee to a miniskirted Laraine Newman they come off as the dear old grandfathers they were by then. Albeit I do wonder if the little ones were allowed to stay up and watch their Grandpas chorus Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?...

[Um, in business suits. You can put down the brain bleach now. Sorry.]


So life acquires a distinctly whimsical edge anyway, when you conflate vacation days with the holidays...

shoebox_dw: (kitty attack)
Public service announcement: Y'know what would make a great gift this holiday season? Fashion sweaters from the Bay. Get two or three of 'em - heck, run right down that list, maybe all the way to Fido.
Cashmere would be good, but really, any natural or acrylic fibre will do - it's not like Gramma's gonna know the difference. C'mon now, who doesn't lurve big poufy sweaters in the middle of a cold winter? All that softness, all that coziness, all that ability to maximise your honey's resemblance to an adorable stuffed animal except with breasts...
...Seriously, those of us whose job satisfaction - not to say overall sanity - is closely tied in to how much of this winter's 'hot trend' their bosses see left on the shelves in April will really, really thank you.

Public service announcement for that-one-mystery-IP#-from-Vancouver-who's-logged-in-like-thirty-times-in-two-weeks: Thanks, it's appreciated. Even if it turns out only to be by a random search engine bot. Always nice to be needed.

Bob & Ray moment of the week (yep, it's the random spillage of love that just keeps on giving): A skit from late 1959 that features Bob agreeing to help with a preview scene of Mary McGoon's (performed by Ray) new radio drama. For those of you keeping track at home, we end up with Ray 's character approving Bob's voice for a character he's performing opposite Ray's character performing another character in the drama, while Ray prompts both his character and Bob from the script. After which Ray's character complains to Bob that his character's voice could've used more of an Italian accent.


So I was musing over the State of the Blog the other day, and it occurred that for a journal that was founded on a series of critiques of Canadian Idol, this one contains precious little in the way of lightheartedly obsessive analysis.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (garfield rabid moth)
Public service announcement: I realise the season for Hallowe'en house decorating is well over, but as long as the ghosties are still dangling from the bushes I feel it my duty to point out a couple things:

1. You know that white fuzzy stuff that's supposed to represent cobwebs? Yes, cobwebs. Those eerily filmy things that hang round neglected corners and sometimes wash over neglected furniture. See, the keywords here are eerily and filmy. Merely plumping great wads of fuzzy stuff all over the lawn suggests that neglect has not so much led to gloom as a cheery sort of occult pillow fight, or perhaps a cosmic Tide commercial. Especially after it rains and the people passing are all 'ooh, I wonder how they're going to pick all that up when they're done'.

2. On the other hand, dying the clumps of fuzzy stuff neon orange? Is truly scary, if only because one fears for the human race if people capable of missing the point that badly are allowed to mingle their genetic material.
Read more... )


shoebox_dw: (Default)

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