The Mind Wobbles

So many things to absorb, think about, deal with and put up with - it simply makes the mind wobble...

Sunday, December 31, 2006

...We'll take a cup o' kindness yet...

"I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me." - Anaïs Nin

New Year's Eve again! As I prepare for a party with my dearest closest friends, I can't help but be a little melancholy. Do you get melancholy on New Year's Eve? I always have, ever since I was young. Depending on what had happened that year, I would regret what I could've done and didn't, shouldn't've done and did; or the loss of a loved one - the year my father died was brutal, etc. Sometimes I just think about past New Year's Eves.

Today as I dropped my mother off at her Assisted Living Facility after taking her out to lunch, I gave her a big hug and once again felt how tiny, and skinny and fragile she was. My mind flashed to when I was a little kid and my parents would go out every year to whatever party or club they had chosen. It was back when people would get decked out for New Year's Eve. My mother would look so beautiful, tall, hair beautifully coiffed, a brand new outfit she had shopped for at the mall with me, high heels, make up, jewelry. And my father so handsome in a suit...they were spectacular - at least to me. I would love them all the more as they left in a bustle of perfume and after-shave, leaving me with my grandmother, happily preparing for a night of card playing - or maybe Chinese checkers - and looking forward to when I was a grown-up and could dress up and go to parties.

So, now I'm a grown-up, my dad's gone and my mom is sitting on a rocking chair living in her timeless jumble of reality, memories and confusion - so tiny, wearing slacks and a simple little blouse. Long gone are the high heels and sparkly jewelry.

Auld lang syne indeed...

Sorry, I didn't mean to be morose - just that traditional melancholy creeping in.

Like Anaïs in the quote above, there'll be no resolutions for me...too much pressure!

I hope all who read this have the New Year's Eve they want, and a wonderous, blessed new year.

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Book Review: "How To Be Alone" by Jonathan Franzen

How To Be Alone

I love Franzen's writing style and his dry sense of humor. The problem I had with this book is that because most of the essays were written in the mid to late 90s and all were written before 9/11, much of his observations have been rendered, in my opinion, obsolete. The world became a different place after 9/11, the start of the war, etc. - therefore his observations on the zeitgeist, obviously, don't reflect that change. He does however cover a wide range of topics: prisons, literature, Alzheimer's Disease and others.

Because I enjoyed his writing style though, I will read "The Corrections". I recommend this book for the writing and breadth of topics, but offer a caveat about the "timeliness" issue.


Friday, December 29, 2006

I Have an iPod - now what?

My wonderful husband got me an iPod for Christmas and last night I was able to start playing with it. The first thing I want to do is rip songs from my gabillion CDs so I can get rid of them (the CDs).

So, I follow the scarce instructions I have and download iTunes. Then I plug my iPod into the laptop and run through the installation wizard.

My iPod's name, by the way, is Lola.

Anyway, the next thing I know there are 66 songs of which I had never heard (I guess that's the "New Music" iTunes introduces you to) not only in my iTunes library but *on my iPod*! What the hell?

So I think I figured out how to get rid of them and I actually managed to get the three songs from the Ricky Martin CD - don't start with me people! - on to the iPod. Now I'm just afraid when I go back into iTunes to rip more CDs those scary songs will attack Lola again!

Every teenager I know has figured this iPod thing out, apparently without toomuch angst. What gives? Is this the universe's way of telling me I'm too old for an iPod?


Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Do you know what "fluffer" means?

Well, a fluffer is a person whose job is

Why do I bring this up, you might wonder? Well, let me share a lovely holiday anecdote.

A few weeks ago my department was putting up our fake Christmas tree - it was a department party of sorts, with music and fun and general revelry. The tree is one of those that have branches of different sizes identified by letter and they have to be inserted into the matching slots on the tree. However, when the tree is taken down and put away, the branches have to be folded into themselves so they'll all fit in the box. So, when it's time to put the tree together, you have to unfold or "fluff" the branches. Are you with me so far?

OK - so, several of the guys were working on the tree (for some reason it was just men at that point) and I march over to them and announce in a not at all quiet voice "I'm an expert fluffer, but I can only fluff while sitting down!" There was a moment of shocked silence and then they all dissolved in laughter. I'm thinking to myself, "OK, it wasn't that funny, but hey, a laugh's a laugh!" So variations upon fluffing and fluffer were incorporated into the conversation for the rest of the day - always with much laughter and hilarity, and with me oblivious.

When my husband picks me up and we're talking about our day I tell him all about it. He just about stopped in the middle of the street and looks at me and the following conversation ensues:
My husband - "Do you know what that means?"
Me - "Do I know what what means?"
My husband - "That word"
Me - "What word?"
My husband - "Fluffing."
Me - "Apparently not."

Then he proceeds to explain it to me. (sigh) Oh dear! Once again I've inserted my size 7 foot into my size 10 mouth (did I get that expression from you Dixie?). Oh well, I'm sure it won't be the last time.

The next day I got the guys together and told them that I didn't know what the word meant when I had used it - which of course they only found to be even funnier!

Seriously, the mind wobbles!


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Noche Buena

(While I write this I'm watching the ABT Mikhail Baryshnikov/Gelsey Kirkland version of The Nutcracker, filmed in 1977 where he is phenomenally at his "Baryshnikoviest" and Kirkland, although in the midst of physical and psychological devastation, is absolutely ethereal. Their pas de deux in the second act is breathtaking! If you haven't see it, you can rent the DVD. While different from the traditional Nutcracker, I strongly recommend it so you can see what is IMO one of the best ballet pairings in history.)

Noche Buena is what most, if not all, Spanish-speaking countries call Christmas Eve. In Cuba, where my parents are from, it's a bigger celebration than Christmas day.

In my family our big meal of roast pork was tonight. We would get together with family and friends - there was always an average of 20-25 people eating together. Because my family never roasted the pig ourselves (that's a full day event), we would gather at whoever's house at around 6 p.m. and wind up sitting down to dinner at around 8 p.m. There would be roast pork (either the whole pig or the pork leg), black beans, white rice and yuca
with mojo (sour orange, garlic, olive oil, onion and more garlic marinade). There was always either a turkey or a capon prepared like a turkey (personally I prefer capon - more flavor). For dessert there's different types of turron , assorted nuts, figs, dates and some kind of pie or cake.

After dinner everyone would sit around the tree and open presents - the kids opening the presents friends and family gave them, as Santa's presents wouldn't arrive until Christmas day. Some years - if we were inspired and sufficiently sober - we'd go to midnight mass, but that didn't happen too often.

On Christmas morning (using the term loosely) everyone would stay home opening Santa's presents, etc. Then at around 3 p.m. someone would have an open house where whoever wanted to stop by would. Whoever hosted the night before would use the left over turkey/capon and pork to make "monteria" which is like a fricasse and is delicious!

As the years passed and the older folks passed away the Cuban tradition has melded with American traditions. Tonight however, we are going to a relatively traditional Noche Buena celebration at a friend's house.

I hope all who read this have a wonderful holiday surrounded by beloved friends and family!

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Work with this.

Fine...but why bring the Jews into this? Perhaps she's one of those tin-foil-hat-wearing-conspiracy-nuts who think the Jews are out for world domination!

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I made my first contribution for the 2008 election!

Yep - I've officially started my 2008 Presidential election activities! The other day I visited Draft Gore and made a $10 donation for a bumper sticker.

As of right now Al Gore is my candidate. Yes, I know he hasn't announced he's running, and in fact has said quite the opposite - that he doesn't want to run. But I still have hope.

He's better than ever IMO. He's drawing in crowds with his movie "An Inconvenient Truth" - great movie by the way - and they are crowds of all types. He's relaxed, confident and funny - and he's just so damned smart!

Now I love Hillary and would love to see her be President, but I think she's too polarizing, it seems too many people hate her just for the sake of hating her. And Barack Obama - again, I love him but I don't think it's his time just yet. And Kerry - well, just no.

Aaaaand...we're off!


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Edvard!

Today is Edvard Munch's - one of my favorite artists - 143rd birthday.

The painting shown above "The Scream" or "The Cry" is probably his most famous painting, but he has a significant body of work in addition to this piece. Although "The Scream" is my favorite (I have two inflatable Screams, one about 2' tall that sits on my desk at work, and one that's 4' tall that lives in my second bedroom wearing a big straw hat, a feather boa and several strands of mardi gras beads), he painted another piece, "The Mermaid" which I also love.

You go Eddy!

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Augusto Pinochet Dead at 91

Pinochet's Death Sparks Clashes in Chile

Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who terrorized his opponents for 17 years after taking power in a bloody coup, died Sunday, putting an end to a decade of intensifying efforts to bring him to trial for human rights abuses blamed on his regime. He was 91.

Good riddance.

While I certainly don't mourn his death I am sorry he was never condemned by a court of law for the atrocities perpetrated under his orders and in his name.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Christmas Ornaments and stuff

I have shamelessly stolen Purplepassion’s Christmas tradition - but hey, that's what friends are for!

Since I don't have children, I've adopted the "Year in Review" ornament tradition for my nieces. Every year I get each of them an ornament symbolic of something in their lives that year and I personalize them with name and year.

This year Niece1 is 6 years old and performed in her first dance recital which included ballet - so her ornament is a pair of ballet slippers. Niece2 is 4 years old and into princesses, so her ornament is a princess crown. Brand new Niece3 turns 1 on 12/21, so she's getting a pink and white candy cane ornament.

I also buy an ornament from wherever we travel and friends often bring them back to us as souvenirs, so I always have new ornaments to display.

The problem I'm facing this year is that I have too many ornaments. We live in 2 bedroom apartment (about 1000 suare feet) on the third floor, so a full-size tree is impractical: if it's real it's a pain to drag in and drag out, and if it's fake it's a pain to store - so we've decided to get a 3' tabletop fake tree. The thing is we have ornaments for a 6'+ tree. I'm going through the ornaments and getting rid of the generic glass balls, etc - we'll probably give them to Goodwill so they can sell them in their stores.

Anyway, my house is 1/4 decorated and 3/4 disaster because everything is half in and half out. I have a lot of Christmas knick-knacks I like to put out, but in order to do that I need to take down the year-round knick-knacks which need to go into the Christmas knick-knack boxes, but I can't take them out till I take the others down...hence the stress (sigh).

I swear I'm about to hang an ornament on each ear and throw some tinsel on my head and declare myself our Christmas decoration. Hell, pass me some well-spiked egg nog and I'll even sing carols...

Speaking of carols I love Burl Ives, I really, really do - how can you not? - but after a weekend of listening to my digital cable Christmas music channel, I want to poke my ears with a Christmas themed knife every time I hear Burl's holly jolly voice!


Monday, December 4, 2006

Good News/Bad News

Good News:

"Controversial UN Ambassador to Step Down"

Unable to win Senate confirmation, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton will step down when his temporary appointment expires within weeks, the White House said Monday.

I think it's wonderful that we will be rid of an Ambassador to the UN that hates the UN and is notoriously undiplomatic!

Bad News:

"New “Defeat for the Devil"

Chavez thanked supporters gathered outside Miraflores Palace for the win. He also thanked his opponents and urged them to join him in continuing his efforts to remake the country in his self-styled socialist revolution. "Long live the socialist revolution! Destiny has been written," Chavez shouted to thousands of flag-waving supporters wearing red shirts, according to The Associated Press.

"That new era has begun," he declared with religious fervor, raising a
hand in the air. "We have shown that Venezuela is red! ... No one should fear socialism... Socialism is human. Socialism is love."

Yeah...umm, I'm thinking not so much.

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Friday, December 1, 2006

World AIDS Day 2006

December 1st is World AIDS Day. Established by the World Health Organization in 1988, World AIDS Day serves to focus global attention on the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Observance of this day provides an opportunity for governments, national AIDS programs, churches, community organizations and individuals to demonstrate the importance of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

World AIDS Day 2006

More information: World AIDS Day 2006 - Wikipedia

25 years ago this year, people began to get diagnosed with AIDS - Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. In that time the World health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 25 million people - 1 million people a year - have died from this condition! 25 years later, the UN program UNAIDS considers it a pandemic with 38.6 million people infected world-wide, many of these are children in Africa who were infected in-utero.

Please light a candle and say a prayer today for the millions throughout the world who are suffering from this horrible disease as well as for their families. Pray that world leaders are moved to finally, seriously work towards a cure, prevention and eradication of this monster that has taken so many innocent, beautiful lives.

If you want to make a donation to help, please consider: Clinton Foundation World AIDS Day 2006