Monday, December 31, 2007

Penny on the Sill

I hope everyone is prepared to rush headlong into 2008 in the most manic yet safe way possible. I know I am.

Originally, we had planned a New Year's Party for the Misfit Toys, a gathering where all of us who hadn't gotten around to making plans, didn't want to pay to go out, etc. could all get together for drinks, Guitar Hero, and watching the ball drop. In fact, originally when I took a poll of all my friends it seemed like nobody had made plans or knew what they were going to do.

As the year waned, however, it seemed like all those misfit toys with no plans started to find plans, and had something better to do. So our quiet, boring gathering idea was tossed out the window.

TFN and I are instead heading down to the Eastern Market to see Impercept play in a loft. It should be fun.

Before I sign off until next year, though, I wanted to relay a bit of superstition given to me from the K&A faction over beer and greasy food at Honest John's last night - If you put a penny on your windowsill today, it will ensure that you have enough money in the new year. It won't make you rich, but it will give you enough.

Really, isn't enough all we're really looking for?

So TFN and I put our pennies on the sills this morning. You should too.

I hope you all have a fun, safe holiday, and no shortage of someones to kiss and hug at midnight! And here's to all of us (raising an imaginary glass, although there will be many real ones tonight) - may all of us have enough this year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Banging My Head Against A Wall Over New Year's Resolutions

Baby No Name Sporting A Bucket
Originally uploaded by alpharat
On the evening of Christmas Day, I was standing on the porch at TFN’s dad’s house, listening to the coyotes. That’s apropos of nothing, but it was still a cool moment – one of those moments that are pretty special, but stand alone, unrelated to the context of things, unless you want to be writerly and force the connection. In this case, I don’t.

The photo of Baby No Name with a bucket on his head is similarly without context, other than to share it, and to say it’s a cute moment with a cute kid who’s growing up fast.

I think that’s how I feel about New Year’s Resolutions - I can't mentally create a context for them. Apparently, along with the New Year that is rolling in whether we like it or not comes the idea that I need to make New Year’s Resolutions.

Goals and the New Year can be contextually related, yet they shouldn’t need to be. Why does January 1 need to be the day my life changes for the better? Does that give me three days to let things slide?

This is really a hard one for me. Making a plan to change or accomplish something should be this thing I do simply because it needs to be done, and setting a deadline seems like I am setting myself up for failure.

Then again, where does the fear of deadlines for this come in? We live in a world dictated by deadlines. My job is a series of deadlines, dates and milestones that have to be met in order to move forward, to succeed and also to remain employed.

Our lives are dictated by deadlines. You need to pay that mortgage, car loan, student loan, cable bill, etc. all by a certain date in order to retain the services associated with them and to remain in good graces with your debtors.

Getting up on time, getting to work on time, showing up for dinner or to meet with friends – aren’t these all a series of deadlines?

So where does this fear of the New Year’s Resolution come from?

Perhaps it’s an awareness that I would be using the idea of a New Year’s Resolution to do the things that I should be doing anyway.

I want to see my family more often.

I want to be on my bike even more than I am now.

I want to write outside of what I already do now. I’d like to finish that novel I’ve talked about for years.

I want to learn to paint.

I want an office with a visible floor.

I want to remodel the kitchen and put a new roof on the house.

I want to take more naps.

I want to start up that band I’ve been talking about.

I want to smoke less, if not quit completely.

I want to frame those prints that have mats in various forms of completion.

I want to up the gauge on my earrings.

I want to finish blogging about the trip to Italy.

I want to take another trip.

I want to take 20 more trips.

I want to live greener.

I want to be randomly kind to people I don’t know.

I want to learn to be a better person.

Maybe there’s this idea that a new year equals a clean slate – and yet I know this isn’t true. My debts are still here and relationships with friends and family remain the same whether or not it’s 2007 or 2008. Life goes on, regardless of the year.

So, will I make a New Year’s Resolution? Yes, I think I will. Will I tell anyone what it is? Probably not, until I complete it, anyway. This will take some pressure off me to do it – I am critical enough of myself, it’s best that I don’t feel like others might be critical of my failures as well.

Maybe my resolutions should include being less critical of my shortcomings, but that brings with it the possibility that, should I cut myself too much slack, it might just be easier to let it all go.

So for now, my only publicly announced New Year’s Resolution is that I resolve not to reveal my resolutions.

TFN had a better one. She announced that her resolution was to visit a bar near our house that we always said we wanted to check out.

That’s a goal I can get behind.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Naked Holiday Greetings!

Christmas Tree
Originally uploaded by alpharat
I hope everyone had a great holiday. I know I did. Wonderful food, time with my family, seeing friends from out of town that I only get to connect with once a year...

It all catches up with you, though.

Today, I am home sick, catching up on sleep, and simply trying to get healthy again.

As for the odd title of this post, part of moving on after the holidays involves TFN getting ready for the Dirty Show, so while I'm nestled up on the couch, she's in her basement studio, taking photos of a nude model.

It's not the most traditional post-holiday observance, I guess, but it's what I'm used to.

OK, I'm going to take a nap now. Hope everyone is recovered from the holidays.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas!

So, this may be the last time we talk until after Christmas, so I hope everyone's holiday is safe and sane.

Here's a little bit of Christmas cheer. (For the record, I pretty much was this kid.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

The beginning of the Italian Recap, where the trip gets back on track...

OK, you've all patiently waited for me to recap the Italy portion of our trip, so I figure I'd best get into it before the holidays takes everything and runs with it.

So, for a musical soundtrack to the trip, I'll offer up Lavender Diamond. I saw them last week, and aside from being in the running for having the cutest singer ever, they are one of my latest musical obsessions. Another one of my latest musical obsessions is the Appalachian Terror Unit, but their music is not as aesthetically appropriate for a trip recap.

We finally arrived in Florence, exhausted from the Paris-Milan-Florence jaunt, and starving. We were at this point, about eight hours behind schedule, having originally intended on hitting Florenec early that morning on a leisurely overnight train ride. Instead, we checked into our hotel with a little less than an hour to meet Z and the Mr.

Normally, this would not have been a problem, as Florence is not that big, and we were about a 10-15 minute walk from our predetermined meeting place, in the shadow of the statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa aloft. Unfortunately, as we made our way there, it became obvious that we didn't quite remember our way from the year before, and Florence is not on a grid, so we missed the meeting point entirely at the first pass.

A still life in Florence
Originally uploaded by alpharat
At this point, TFN was visibly frustrated. It was her birthday, and she was really looking forward to meeting with Z and Mr. Z to restore a bit of normalcy and festivity to the day that had thus far gone horribly wrong. As the meeting time came and went without us having yet made it to the piazza, she was in very low spirits. Fortunately, when we arrived at the statue, 15 or 20 minutes late, Z had waited for us, and smiles and hugs happened, and the trip got back on track.

I will confess that our evening with Z and Mr. Z was by far the hardest we partied the entire trip. Drinks lead to dinner (at a secondary choice after we discovered that our original favorite restaurant was now trendy and difficult to get into, and came with rude service as well. The dinner that we ended up with was delicious and came with two liters of wine.

Originally uploaded by alpharat
After the dinner, we ended up at a literally underground bar, where we pushed rude and stupid American college students out of the way, while an Italian band played covers of English songs from the '60s. This included a cover of "Paint It Black" for TFN's birthday. This evening also included many drinks until we stumbled back to our hotel, just a few hours away from having to get up for a trip to Siena. We were happy that the trip was back on track, although we'd be cursing Z due to our hangovers the next morning...

More soon...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hockey Lesson #1

I don't know if any of you saw this last week, but we were watching the Wings at the bar when this happened.

Basically, the lesson here is that when you are making a breakaway for the goal, you do need to realize that the goaltender does NOT need to stay in the crease, and that you can't just put your head down and think that the goalie won't charge you.

The Green Fairy

The Green Fairy
Originally uploaded by alpharat
I promise I will finish the trip recap soon, but I just wanted to take a moment to announce that I just found out the absinthe is once again legal in the states!

Apparently it's been legal since March, but nobody told me... I don't know why.

Green Fairy party, anyone?

Monday, December 10, 2007

When it rains literal cats and dogs, I might get confused. Until then...

So it’s been cold, yucky and icy as of late. Last week, we had temperatures bouncing up and down too, which lead to the ground freezing and then a warmer rain that was flooding the streets everywhere.

It was quite odd, but I believe I understood how it happened. I knew what was going on.

The reason I say that is because, that evening, on the local news, they of course devoted some airtime to the odd weather. They interviewed some local residents who spoke about how odd it was as well.

One guy they interviewed, who spoke about the strange weather, had on the screen, beneath his head, his name and the phrase “confused about the weather.”

I feel so bad for this guy.

From now on, he’s going to be known by all his friends as the guy who’s “confused about the weather.”

He will also never again win an argument with his wife. Not when she can say “Oh, yeah? Well at least I’m not confused about the weather!”

The Channel Two News ruined his life…

Friday, December 07, 2007


This was emailed to me from the A of the K & A faction. I can't argue with it's logic:

As Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we will have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E.coli) - bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop. However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting...

Remember: Water = Poop, Wine = Health

Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of shit.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I'm doing it as a public service.

Bottom's up!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (En Francais)

I'm not sure how prevalent the news was here in the states, but the fact was, while we were in Paris, there was a massive transit strike going on. This caused several problems:

You couldn't take a train anywhere. They simply weren't running.
It was night impossible to get a taxi. They were in short supply, due to the above reason.
Many of the museums weren't open, simply because people couldn't get to work.

Fortunately, we were staying in the Latin Quarter, a hip, student-focused neighborhood near the Sorbonne, so restaurants and nightlife were close at hand. Unfortunately, issues like this strike also tend to get the students riled up (Remember the barricades? Les Mis? Yeah, it was this neighborhood.), so the students were ready to go at any moment, and because of that, the neighborhood was also heavily patrolled by police in full riot gear. But they made no attempt to deter our fun, so we simply took them as an unnerving presence.

In Paris, we didn't let this deter us. We walked everywhere, more so than in trips past, and we saw many of the things that we'd not seen before. Like L'Orangerie, an Impressionist museum that introduced me to Marie Laurencin, an artist I had neither heard of nor seen, but fell in love with immediately.

We visited the cemeteries, seeing the graves of Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and Jim Morrison. We went to the Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette spent her final days before going to the guillotine over the whole cake deal.

We went to the Sacre Couer, and Mont Martre (where we saw the cafe from Emilie), and even went to the Erotic Art Museum on Pigalle. That one was a total surprise; what we figured would be silly joke for a few Euro turned out to be an unbelievably extensive collection of art and artifacts, and even included some pieces by Degas I'd never even known to exist.

We went to a piano bar, and a regular bar where French college students were playing American covers.

We ate a lot, and had a lot of wine, and just relished the idea that we were in Paris, strike be damned.

Then things got a little worse. One of the high points of the trip was to be, for TFN's birthday, an overnight train through the Alps into Florence. Unfortunately, the strikers were also setting train tracks on fire, and vandalizing switches. No trains were leaving the country, and TFN's fabulous birthday adventure was about to turn into a run-of-the-mill Planes, Trains and Automobiles traveling nightmare.

In order to get out of France, never mind getting the trip back on track, we needed to first catch a cab to the airport and book a flight to Milan for the next morning. Due to everyone going through identical issues, the hotels at the airport were booked up, and all we could get was a very large, very lavish, very expensive suite in the Hilton with a lovely view of the parking lot.

The wonderful restaurant in the Hilton offered a $100 buffet, so we opted for the restaurant next door, which was like the French version of Denny's. Just like the Denny' here, the food was awful, but at least this one also had wine.

At Christ-it's-early the next morning, we caught our flight to Milan, then we took a shuttle to the train station, and while I went into the office to buy tickets to Florence, TFN stood outside, and demonstrated her ability to tell off a beggar in Italian. She does it very well normally, but when she's pissed off (on her birthday, no less!) she ranks up there with the best. She can make them scatter.

I bought the tickets to the train (I wasn't wearing a watch, but I walked out of the station and told TFN when the next train was – she glanced at her watch and informed me that I had just bought tickets for a train departing in 10 minutes – more running ensued). Finally, we were settled on the train to Florence, where Z and Mr. Z were waiting, and we could celebrate the birth of TFN (and Thanksgiving) in style.

More to come…