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The Resolutions I’m Not Dissing

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I’ve come full circle, and perhaps another 45 degrees, on the whole New Year’s Resolutions Thing ®. As an adolescent I was intrigued by the idea of making New Year’s Resolutions – or at least I was the first time I heard an adult talking about it. Then in young adulthood  [1] I though, oh puhleeeease, what a crock. Whenever I was asked about my NYR’s I’d reply that I had already, several years ago, made the only resolution I’d ever kept: to never make another NYR.  [2]

 

 

 

NYR

 

 

Now, I think NYR are a fine idea. Yeah, resolve to “do better,” however and whenever you can and whatever that entails for you. Of course, you don’t have to wait for the start of a new year to do so, but after all, the world is full of arbitrary limits, guidelines and restrictions,   [3]   so what the heck.

Some of my resolutions for this year are more profound than others;  all shall remain private….

My New Year’s resolutions
(1) stop making lists
(B) aim for consistency
(4-C.7) review basic mathematics

 

…but for this seemingly hackneyed one which, if kept, has a good chance of turning out to be the most nourishing to body and psyche:

Have more fun.

 

 

 

fun

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Department Of Foodie Segue

 

☼  Roasted bell pepper and black-eyed pea fritters
☼  Corn muffins
☼  Mediterranean spiced collard greens

 

My New Year’s Day menu once again included a dish featuring black-eyed peas. I have done this for…decades, I guess. I do this in honor of my father and his heritage: specifically, his family’s tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day –  an act of culinary optimism which was supposed to bring good luck for the coming year.

 

 

BEPjpg

 

 

Despite consuming black-eyed peas every New Year’s day, my father’s family remained dirt poor sharecroppers.  [4]   Every year, as I bring whatever black-eyed pea dish I’m making to my family table, I can’t help but wonder: just once, did a brave soul in my father’s family– possibly his adored, spunky younger sister, Lucille – when presented with yet another bowl of black-eyed peas and the directive to, Eat up, y’all, it’ll bring us good luck in the coming year!, look around at the ramshackle farmhouse and her barefooted siblings  [5] and mutter, It still ain’t workin.’

 

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Department Of The Benefits Of Getting Up And Out Early In The Morning

At any time of the year, but especially in the winter, if you start walking before sunrise and pay attention,  [6] you are occasionally rewarded with a sight like the top (and only the top) leaves of a tree aglow as they are backlit by the rays of the rising sun.

 

 

amtreelights

 

 

 

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Department Of The Coop Is On The Loose

Another unforeseen benefit of an early morning constitutional: earlier this week I saw eleven hens (not all in range in this shot), in someone’s front yard at 7:15 am.  Were the chickens let out on purpose, or was it a jail corral break?

Either way, if I may anthropomorphize for a moment, they seemed tremendously excited to have new territory to scratch and new bugs to hunt. That particular homeowner (who may or may not be the urban chicken “rancher”) was getting their lawn aerated, whether they wanted it or not.

 

 

chickens

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Department Of Why The #$!?* Is This Necessary?

 

This advice, printed on the “anti-mold sticker” in the box that held my new rain boots:

 

 

sticker

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Department Of Benign Neglect

 

I think my sourdough starter is active. It may even have the pastry equivalent of ADHD.

 

 

starter

 

 

Were this crock of starter to be erupting on the White House kitchen counter, the crock who currently occupies the White House would likely be tweeting to North Korea about how MY STARTER IS UUUUUUUGE, BIGGER THAN YOURS AND THE MOST ACTIVE ON THE PLANET.

 

 

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Department Of Do I Get A Girl Scout Badge For This?

Yesterday afternoon I was in the sodas aisle of the grocery store, looking for ginger ale for daughter Belle. An elderly woman was ahead of me, hunched over her cart, peering intently at the dizzying variety of Coca-Cola products. She suddenly announced in frustration and disappointment, “There’s no Cherry Coke!”

I wasn’t sure if she was addressing moiself, or beseeching the soft drink deities. In case it was the former, I pointed out a case of Cherry 7-Up to her. She said she’d tried Cherry 7-Up,  and it was okay, but she wanted Cherry Coke to go with her pizza (she had a frozen cheese pizza in her cart).  I pushed my cart up the aisle, looking for ginger ale and also checking every level of the soft drinks. At the far end of the aisle, away from the other Coke products, I found a case of Cherry Coke…and also found, much to my surprise, how excited I was to have done so.

“I found it!” I exclaimed, waving to the woman. Her watery blue eyes beamed as she  pushed her cart toward me. She thanked me profusely and said, at least three times, “You’re a good helper,” as if I were ten years old (or her beloved Labrador who’d just fetched her newspaper).

 

 

badge

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May your sourdough starter be the envy of the world’s small-handed despots;
May the new year favor you with an abundance of glowing treetop experiences;
May you be appreciated for being a good helper;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I think that should encompasse ages 20 – 56.

[2] Past failed resolutions include, “Be taller,” and “Do not engage in audible eye-rolling when someone mentions their detox cleanse.”

[3] E.g. you are no more capable of making discerning political choices the day before your 18th birthday than you are the day of your 18th birthday; still, you can’t register to vote when you are age 17 years 364 days….

[4] Excuse me, make that “tenant farmers,” as sharecroppers was considered a pejorative label.

[5] My father’s parents couldn’t afford shoes for all six of their children, so as the elder kids got shoes they handed them down to the younger siblings. You got to wear shoes if there were a pair that happened to fit you. My father went to his proverbial grave not knowing that my mother had shared the story, with my sisters and I, of how our dad was embarrassed as a child when he showed up barefoot at school and was teased by the townie kids, who called him a dumb barefoot farm boy.

[6] In other words, are not looking down at YOUR FUCKING CELLPHONE.

The Well I’m Not Meaning

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Happy 2014!

I hope the holidays brought you the new science oven of your dreams.

MICROWAVE

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Miscellaneous observation on the human condition/New Year’s Resolution mash-up

I resolve never to mean well, nor to have a heart that induces others to bless it.

You know what I mean, even if you think you don’t.

During the after après-holiday dinner cleanup, you graciously but firmly refuse your notoriously ham-fisted aunt’s offer to dry the stemware.  Smiling and cracking wise, Auntie pushes you aside and grabs a dishtowel and within seconds there is the jaw-clenching jingle of shattering glass.  Your mother takes your elbow and steers you into the hallway, delivering her comment in a there-there voice, which is meant to assuage your distress at the fact that your aunt smashed your husband’s family heirloom, Waterford crystal champagne goblets, given to you as a wedding gift from your in-laws.

Oh, Aunt Erva – she means well.

Observation has led me to this point:  One must strive to never, ever, mean well.  Inevitably, whenever an anecdote is followed by “s/he meant well,” it was preceded by followed by the description of a boner of a comment and/or action by “s/he.”

I’ve noted a similar correlation with “bless his heart.”  Uncle Harry, bless his heart. This seemingly benign consecration/invocation [1]  is sometimes used when Uncle Harry has somehow fallen into misfortune (The doc told Harry the tumor metastasized to his lungs, bless his heart).  More commonly, it accessories a certain kind of description — one that never includes tales of competence and/or intelligence.  Rather, you are about to hear confirmation that Uncle Harry can’t find the play button on his remote control, so to speak.

images75JF20WH

Woe unto you if the two are ever put together – you may as well check yourself into the Loser Asylum.  If I’m ever on the receiving end of, Bless her heart, Robyn means well…., I will hesitate to gaze skyward lest I espy vultures circling.

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Two Thumbs (both opposable) Up

Although I really, really wanted to edit it down to less than two hours, I nevertheless recommend seeing American Hustle.  Who would have thought an entertaining movie could come from the story of a forty year-old corruption sting? I assume the story of the ABSCAM  operation was made more cinema-worthy by the fabrication of a love triangle between an FBI agent and two informants – and also by copious boob shots of the female leads (insert director’s disco area clothing excuse). And ya gotta love a movie that has a side joke about how incredible microwaves (“the science oven”) seemed in the 1970s.  Plus, an all-around stellar cast. And mancurlers.

MANCURLERS

I’d raise my opposable big toes [2] if I had them for Saving Mr. Banks.  My movie-going friend LAH and I agreed that this is a movie we both are going to be processing for some time, for both personal and professional reasons. The story of author PL Travers‘ resistance to Walt Disney’s pursuit of the film rights to Mary Poppins is vastly entertaining in its own right, and also has several thought-provoking sub plots, including wrestling with how a person can succeed or fail at loving – and “saving” – their family.  If you had or have a loving and problematic relationship with your loving but deeply flawed father, this might be the movie for you…or, it might break your heart.

MP

For writers, the movie deals with the dilemma of selling (and selling out) your characters and stories, even as you grapple with the realization that your motivation for creating them in the first place might be far more complicated than you realize.

Special Bonus: SMB stars Emma Thompson, whom I want to be when I grow up.

Whaddya mean, I’m already grown up [3] and I’m not Emma Thompson [4]?

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson

Not Emma Thompson

Not Emma Thompson

Happy effin’ New Year to you, too.  And may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Really, what is it?

[2] Which I do not possess despite sharing 96% of of my DNA with chimpanzees, thank you for your concern.

[3] Trust me, that assertion would not stand up in a court of law.

[4] Not only that, I’m two and a half years older than her, and yet she somehow became herself before I did. Damn!

The Resolutions I’m Not Breaking

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I hope y’all had/are having a Merry Happy Festivus Christmukkuh , however you acknowledge (or spell) your favorite holiday celebrations.

festivus

This week I received two early bird publication notifications.  Translation: due to the mysteries of publishers’ scheduling, stories that were slated for publication in 2014 instead just made it in 2013:  My story “Souvenir” is featured in the December/Winter 2013 edition of Hospital Drive and “Requiem” is in the Voices From the Porch anthology.

K is home from college on semester break until MLK day. All four of us (MH, Belle, K and moiself) carried on with our tradition of having Christmas Day lunch at Jake’s Grill, after which we walk (or waddle, depending on the Jake’s menu) to Powell’s Books. Another if sporadic Christmas Day tradition is going out to a movie, which we fulfilled by catching the last matinee [1] showing of Frozen.

There is much to like about the latest Disney Princess Movie ® (insert appropriate groan- gasp), aside from the stunning animation, memorable songs and several genuinely funny sidekick/comic relief characters. [2]

 viewer-approved sidekick Olaf

viewer-approved sidekick Olaf

Belle and I talked afterward, about how refreshing it was to see an animated (or any kind of) movie that featured than one main female character (gasp again), and also to find that finding a prince for the princess was not the main plot point…and how pathetic it is that we have to consider those things “refreshing.”

If they can see it, they can be it.”

Mere words cannot describe how much I love that quote.  Really elaborate ones might help, but I’m trying to savor one of my favorite times of the year – the span between Christmas

XMAS

and New Year’s –

NYE

 and it would require too much concentration to get all sesquipedalian on y’all.

Instead, I’ll let the quote-generator herself, Geena Davis, actor and founder of the Institute on Gender in Media, do the talking. Best known for her role as Thelma and Louise‘s avenging assault victim, Davis is a righteous warrior when it comes to battling inequality in her chosen field.  Thelma Davis takes aim at gender disparity in the movies in her recent guest column in the Hollywood reporter, Two Easy Steps to Make Hollywood Less Sexist.

THELMA

The basics are that for every one female-speaking character in family-rated films (G, PG and PG-13), there are roughly three male characters; that crowd and group scenes in these films — live-action and animated — contain only 17 percent female characters; and that the ratio of male-female characters has been exactly the same since 1946. Throw in the hypersexualization of many of the female characters that are there, even in G-rated movies, and their lack of occupations and aspirations and you get the picture. 

It wasn’t the lack of female lead characters that first struck me about family films. We all know that’s been the case for ages… It was the dearth of female characters in the worlds of the stories — the fact that the fictitious villages and jungles and kingdoms and interplanetary civilizations were nearly bereft of female population — that hit me over the head. This being the case, we are in effect enculturating kids from the very beginning to see women and girls as not taking up half of the space.

 Moiself has long thought Hollywood [3] has a bit of what I call an Islamist sensibility when it comes to simple gender demographic representation.  Watch a “crowd scene” filmed in an Islamist country, whether it’s a documentary on daily life or a breaking news clip of a demonstration outside of an embassy.  What you will see is a sea of male faces.  Where are the women?  Somebody with lady parts had to make all those bearded boys.  Oh, wait – what’s that?  A moving, mummified column?  Could be a female, but it’s hard to tell under all that casing.  We know they are there but they are cloistered, whether mentally and emotionally inside the home as well as literally when they are “allowed” outside.  They are…infrastructure.

*   *   *

But I digress.

On to a new segment I call

Happy New Year – and you do know it’s gonna be 2014, right?

A special Welcome to the nineteenth Century – whoops, that should be twenty-first, where did the time go? – to those Wacky Elders of the LDS.  Yes, the Mormon church, always Johnny-on-the-spot re human rights, has come out as no longer being officially racist, with their declaration (way back in 2013) that dark skin is no longer a sign of god’s curse.

It will be interesting to see if, in the coming year, the continuation of the church’s “I’m a Mormon” print and media ads, [4] will bring about the revision if not the elimination of other LDS whackadoodle other beliefs, including:

1.  The American continent was originally settled by ancient near easterners.
2.  Native Americans are descendants of ancient Israelites.
3.  The Book of Mormon [5] is an historically accurate work, translated by Joseph Smith from gold plates buried by the prophet Moroni.
4. The Osmond Family – now, that’s entertainment!

mouthfuls of enormous, white teeth are a sign of god's favor

mouthfuls of enormous, white teeth are a sign of god’s favor

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New Year’s and Resolutions Ruminations

*  Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.  (Bill Vaughan

* New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. (Mark Twain

* Happiness is too many things these days for anyone to wish it on anyone lightly. So let’s just wish each other a bile-less New Year and leave it at that. (Judith Crist

* I can’t believe it’s been year since I didn’t become a better person. (Anonymous) 

* The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad. ( Friedrich Nietzsche) 

* Those who break New Year’s resolutions are weaklings.  Those who make them are fools. (Anonymous)

The only New Year’s Resolution I’ve successfully kept was the one I made way back in the 1980’s, which was to not make New Year’s Resolutions.  But that was so…well…80’s. [6]  Perhaps it’s time to give it another try.

In 2014 I resolve to:

1. stop making lists
B. be more consistent
9. remember to count
F. never again use the word “Osmond” (at least in public)

Whatever you resolve, may you leave ample room for the hijinks to ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Also a tradition: see the movie at the cheaper show times.

[2] Such characters are difficult to pull off, and often trip over the line between amusing and obnoxious.  Jar-jar Binks, anyone?

[3] Meaning the film industry, whether it’s a blockbuster filmed in the actual So Cal soundstage or an indie on the streets of Portland or Austin….

[4] The LDA-s million dollar pr campaign a multi-million dollar marketing campaign about “ordinary Americans who are also ordinary Mormons.”

[5] The LDS hold scripture, not the musical. Although there is more rational evidence for the historical accuracy of the musical.

[6] Are you picturing harem pants for men, Valleygirl mallrat side ponytails and Miami Vice designer stubble?  You know you want to.