Monday, December 31, 2007

Turning a new calendar page

I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I do have an annual beginning-of-the-year tradition. Each year, I buy a new wall calendar and transfer all the birthdays marked in the old year onto the new year. As I scroll from month to month, each name serves as a reminder of that person and prompts an assessment of our friendship. Is this a person I'll be sending a birthday card to in the next year? Names get left off. Sometimes, with a sense of relief, as a final release from a friendship that we both probably realized was on the decline. Sometimes, it's with a sense of sadness, as I am reluctant to admit that person has passed from my life. Fortunately, it's been over a decade since I left a name off due to a death. But I don't need to have my grandmother's birthday marked - I remember June 4th regardless.

This year, I continued that ritual, for what may be the last time. I am migrating to google's electronic calendar, and I set each birthday to reoccur annually. I'm sure I'll still edit people in and out, but it won't happen all at once. Maybe that's for the best. I'm a little sad now, missing the people I am no longer friends with, and a little guilty, feeling inadequate for being unable to maintain the relationships that have lapsed. This tradition usually doesn't pick up the new friends I've added along the way - their birthdays are slow to cling to the calendar, mostly due to my laziness. Maybe this new system will allow me to add new birthdays, new friends, more easily. I already saw one that I'd added - November 12 - and that made me smile.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Poetry of Spam

away her cats and one of the Pentoshi oarsman asked how much she wanted for the clam between time, and autumn is a stormy season. Gilly would be with him, though, and the babe would grow u

Cheap pharmacy pills and strange, almost haunting, almost poetic emails. It nearly makes me want to read my spam folder.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Why office holiday parties are generally dangerous and specifically sticky

We had our office holiday party today (which is of course a Christmas party that no one calls a Christmas party). I volunteered to bring flan, and so this morning slung my canvas bag over my shoulder with a big casserole of yumminess inside. It wasn't long before a little twitch in Sector 15-D of my brain was telling me that something wet was touching me, but since the luxuries of civilization have softened me and allowed me to disregard section 15-D of my brain, I did. Unfortunately, when I got off the subway I realized I had about 50 square inches of caramel syrup clinging to my pants, which were in turn clinging to my hip. The stuff had soaked through the canvas bag, my lined wool coat, and onto my vulnerable hip. The only solution was, once I got to work, to wash the pants. This meant standing at the bathroom sink in my coat, with no pants on, rinsing them out. I think I startled the woman who saw me wearing pants when I first walked in, and then not wearing pants when she exited the bathroom stall. Oh well. It wasn't worth explaining. ("Yeah, I got flan on my pants.")

Then, the holiday party itself kicked off about four hours later, when our division decided we couldn't wait any longer, turned up the music and dug into the food and beers. It seems our office leadership soon followed, as ruddy cheeks and bad jokes were evident in spades. Nothing like drinking beer at 11:30 in the morning with your office mates. Fortunately, no body got caught making photocopies of their bums, but there was this one drunk guy who ...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Stonehenge, Woodhenge, and the Difficulty of an Interest in History

On Thursday, Patrick and I went with my dad and stepmother to a lecture at National Geographic by archaelogist Michael Parker Pearson. Parker Pearson initially began digs at the areas around Stonehenge in an effort to prove or disprove his theory of its origin - that the builders conceived Stonehenge as a monument to the dead, the ancestors, whereas Woodhenge, a series of cocentric circles of tree trunks, was the departure point of the living. He speculated that people 4,500 years ago took their dead from Woodhenge and launched them down a nearby river, which flowed past Stonehenge, and that they might have carried their dead (certain select dead) up to Stonehenge. He's not sure if he's proved that theory, I think, but they did find Britain's largest neolithic village. Hear Parker Pearson explain it himself. It was a fascinating talk, replete with the tiny mysteries that fill history. (Well, Patrick fell asleep, or at least flirted dangerously with sleep, but I thought it was interesting.) They found only three human bones in Woodhenge (among 80,000 animal bones), and one of them was a thigh bone with two arrow marks - one on the front, and one on the back. They identified what appear to be knee marks in front of a home's hearth. They suspect that a 1960s highway, which runs through Woodhenge, obscures a palacial neolithic house that held royalty or the like.

How do you handle that much yearning to know? How can one person discover so many unanswered questions and know that they'll never completely answer them, without totally losing it? To be interested in history, I think, you have to have an interest in humanity. And if you're interested in humanity, those little questions can't fail to move you (I think). So when every dig uncovers just a word, a comma, of another human story, how can you keep unearthing them?

Maybe I'm over-thinking it. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be an archaeologist. But I love dipping my toes in those pools of mysteries every once in a while. It's tantalizing. And then, life goes on.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Our first snow!

It's snowing! Of course, hardy Wisconsin-ites (and anyone north of the Mason-Dixon line) would scoff at our powdering of white stuff as a mere pre-winter sneeze, but I'm thrilled! It's beautiful. Check out the Post for some pretty pics.

Five years ago, if I remember correctly, we got one of the rare genuine blizzards to hit DC. I was living downtown and marveled at the snow that just kept falling and falling, like huge chunks of glitter left over from an angelic throw-down. The best part was that the snow defeated the local automobile population. For at least one glorious night, the streets belonged to the pedestrians. I walked down my usually taxi-packed street, hiking through snow that reached my calves. Everywhere was white and hardly anyone was evident. Of course, the cars soon re-asserted their dominance, turning the beautiful snow brown, but it was wonderful while it lasted. Quiet, lonely, and fabulous.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Fish in Grand Cayman

An egg unrolled into a fish, a tiny backbone of being. The fish let salt water flow over its fresh gills and life surged with the water. The water was shallow and empty, save for a moving sea shell, monstrous to the tiny fish. The fish ignored the shell. The shell ignored the fish. They coexisted in the tidal pool.

The fish grew larger than the moving sea shell, and was grateful when a wave crested into its tidal pool and pulled it out. It swirled and thrashed and spun, and found itself in more water than it had ever seen. It stayed close to the sand.

One night, when the light from the sky was as bright as the fish had ever seen, splashing and feet disrupted the fish's sandy rest. Lovers rolled in the sand and drunkards postured in the water. The fish fled.

The fish found a colony of other fish, and it felt comfortable there. The fish ate and periodically wondered at the large, masked, awkward bodies that came to mingle. The bodies seemed to want to join, but could only linger.

The fish didn't know when it died. Who does? And it didn't miss the crystal blue water and white sand. But it would have if it could have.

A cemetery in Grand Cayman.

Princess Nijma

Princess Nijma