Friday, December 31, 2010

You Would Cry Too

Okay, so I'm lucky to be alive, to be in good health, relatively good spirits, with my very loving and gentle husband to slide through this day with me. And that's where my appreciation ends and my pity party begins.

Because I was supposed to wake up in the glow of my Santa Rosa home this morning, bake a strawberry tart with fresh whipped cream, go hiking somewhere verdant and lush, field phone calls from my front porch with a cup of steamy tea, concoct some exciting evening plan that involves champagne, a new skirt, and spinning around a dance floor (or at least my living room) before the inevitable shrieks and countdown to a new, brilliant year.

Yeah, that's what I was supposed to be looking forward to, on this, my birthday, my 32nd birthday. Sigh. Instead I'm stranded in the bleak sprawl of Dallas, where they packed up the free continental breakfast a few minutes early.

To back pedal: yesterday our flight to San Francisco was canceled, due to mechanical errors, and round after round of sparring with airline reps yielded the news that all flights to ANYWHERE in California are booked solid until Saturday. We were numbers 20 and 21 on the stand-by list, which bore no fruit. We were comped a hotel room and a Denny's supper, and managed to get on a flight to Fresno leaving Dallas at 8pm tonight. Which means, if we're lucky enough to find a rental agency open when we land (so far the ones we've called will be closing early), we might be able to ring in the new year from a car driving up the 101. If luck is not on our side (and luck, folks, seems to have flown far away from this holiday travel hell), then we'll spend the night in a hotel in the central valley. Three days just to get home.

I know, I know, it could be worse, but how? Did I mention that my bag DID make it to San Francisco, with all of my clothing, toiletries, and phone charger?

Here's the grand irony: I wrote this little piece for the Bohemian (copy and paste the link below) about how air travel continues to get worse and worse, never imagining that I would be struck down by the unfriendly skies on my own New Year's Eve birthday.

I will, of course, try my best to glimpse some joy in this day, for who knows where it might be lurking? Perhaps we'll make it to the fateful grassy knoll in downtown Dallas, and my own birthday ruination will be thrown into sharp perspective as M and I discuss the tragedy of JFK's assassination. Or maybe I'll look out of some shuttle or airplane window and see a bright world spinning, and realize that it's enough just to be a part of it.

Then again, it is my party, and I'll surely cry if I want to.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Cold, rainy Christmas day here in Lafayette, Louisiana.

M marvels at our family: the same thing every year, traditions etched deep as smile lines, recipes by heart.

Year after year, so many things don't change-- Christmas Eve honey ham, a table filled with pralines and sand tarts, the coziness of ankle-deep wrapping paper, the thrill of the still-wrapped gift, hugs good night until the next day, when we all come together again, this time for the formality of Christmas dinner, all the once-a-year treats (cornbread dressing, pecan-encrusted yams) eaten off of the finest china, silver goblets and towering candles, coaxing stories from the aunts about their teenage escapades, two-timing dates and ratting each other out. So much continuity that I register even the slightest of changes: whiskey balls this year, instead of cherry pie.

M is here for the second year, first time in official family capacity, as my husband (and today, our three month anniversary). A new groove in the holiday pavement. I look across the living room and he's teaching Darth Vader's Imperial March to my younger cousin on piano, delighting my grandmother with his old 1930s standards. His effortless ivory becomes the backdrop to our familiar noise and flutter. Not a seismic shift, but the pattern is altered, the tradition is enriched.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Office

Sitting in my office at SSU, for the last time this year, feeling a bit blue.

One student e-mailed already to say she was sad to leave the classroom this morning, she really enjoyed the class.

Another lingered after class to chit chat about her future plans.

Another student just blew into the office with sleep creases on her cheeks to hand in her final essay.

This leaves only one no-show student for the final day of class, but I'm worried. She's the one who sits front and center with a huge smile on her face, who comes to my office hours after every single class, who always needs to work on her thesis statement, who tells me things like "you feel like my big sister." Last week she bemoaned the end of the semester because we wouldn't be hanging out anymore. She has a tendency to oversleep.

Sigh. My hungry minds chews on worry:
How much longer can I wait for her to show?
How will she pass the class if she doesn't hand in her final essay?

I could have left this office half an hour ago. I've got keys and a copy card to hand in. I've got my class evaluations sitting in the English department, can't wait to go and read them. I've got three other English classes to teach today. I've got a dining table full of crafting materials and a coffee belly begging for carbohydrates.

If she isn't here in seven minutes, I'm going to turn off the light, lock the door, and head out into the gray mist. It won't be easy, but neither is being a teacher, neither is saying good-bye.

Friday, December 10, 2010

10 Things to Love about December

An evening jog through streets warm with light and fireplace smoke.

Holiday parties. The bites are buttery, the wine is free, and the conversation is like tinsel, shiny and fun.

Coming home from school on a rainy afternoon and baking butterscotch oatmeal cookies to enjoy with vanilla tea and Barbara Streisand's dewy sadness in “Funny Girl.”


The inspiration of craft fairs, where I realize that most of the impossibly hip yet woefully overpriced feather-and-collage-laden treasures can be made by yours truly. I've got the glue gun, the materials, and the motivation; now I just gotta do it.

Wrapping presents.

Riding my bike through warm blankets of cloud and fog.

The promise of the luxurious, indulgent, seemingly endless Christmas break, closer each and every day.

I love the coziness of a lit-up tree peeking out of a living room window, even though on the car-ride home it looks more like a carcass.

That feeling of being nestled in at the bottom of the year, the darkest time, where fall goes sliding into winter and Capricorn comes to rest, at last.