It’s almost new year’s

Somehow, I managed to take the whole fall off and not even realize it.  I guess I was distracted.  Or overly focused on what was in front of me.  Or something.

Looking forward to 2011.  There is a lot to be grateful for and I am both curious about and hopeful for what’s on the horizon. 

When the skies dumped two feet of snow on a grumpy city, something possibly transformative happened.  People had to stay put at home with loved ones.  Or play in the snow.  Or stay put with loved ones in another city.  While the struggle to get home is mighty, I have had more smiles flashed at me,  had more of those random five line dialogues passing someone on the street (the sidewalk ballets) than in a long time.  I had two hour-long conversations with strangers this week.  Just sitting there, minding my own business, eating my french fries, and then a sidelong glance, and the ever-so-tentative initial attempts at conversation.  With a retired Scottish lady I-banker and a former pro-footbal player. 

I hope that these are the kind of collisions that continue to come.  That this snow storm isn’t the only deus ex machina of coming times.   We need people to be so disarmed by, oh, say,  the forces of nature that all the walls come down.  They need to express delight, confusion, sadness to someone.  And so they reach out to you and your world gets a little bit bigger.  And you learn a little bit more.  And you’re connected for a second.

Those of you who live where there are no seasons, I feel bad for you.  Maybe that’s why Paul Thomas Anderson made it frogs for the Valley.  May you have frogs, then.

Year of the Ox and Ox Blood Doc Martens

Do you like Chinese food?

If you don’t, chances are because you aren’t actually eating Chinese food.

Check out this talk from Jennifer 8:

My favorite things about this Chinese New Year:

1.  My friend Rach ran up and whispered “Happy New Year” to me today and flashed me her red shirt.  I flashed my own red shirt back.
2.  My friend Ed Lin was sporting some good lookin’ Ox Blood Dr. Martens (I swear that’s what they call them)  at the Asian American Writer’s Workshop’s Lunar New Year Countdown last night.  And he read the funniest work ever about his memories of childhood Chinese new years, drinking Shop Rite orange soda, having his mom pocket his red envelopes and having to play Fur Elise for all the old people.
3.  It’s the year of the Ox.  That’s my year.  Oxen are steadfast,  hard working, slow to change–basically, beasts of burden.  I suppose now is as good a time as any for us to be in the year of the Ox.  Because guess what?  Obama is a fellow Oxen.

Oh, the holidays…

The Vampire Cowboys are very funny people. This is their Holiday card.

I think in these times, I need to laugh more than anything.  That and brain candy.  I am 199 pages into Chuck Klosterman’s Killing Yourself to Live: A True Story.  He is traveling to the sites of the demise of great (and not so great) rock stars.  I probably shouldn’t find this to be candy, but I do.  I have to buy a new copy because I had to give mine as a stolen gift for the Ma-Yi Writers Lab’s 2008 Yankee trade.  We could only use stolen gifts.  I stole it from my friend Lloyd.  Sorry, Lloyd.

In these times it’s hard to know what to get people for the holidays too.  I was just given a Trader Joe’s gift card, which I think I’m very grateful for.  I know I’ll be eating.  Well.  Thank you, L&M.

Holidays Alone

Is their chosen aloneness an incredibly decisive act of self-determination?

My TV is out tonight. Okay. So, I thought I might unwind and rest my head by listening to a podcast. Some radio.

You might have also listened to the November 17th version of “This American Life.” There is a story of a 79-year old woman named Maryann who walked into a hospital alone and died there. It follows the story of a young woman named Emily whose job it is to claim her things at the hospital, go through her house and figure out who to inform, how to find family or loved ones. This particular woman left nearly no personal items, but had a house full of things. She cocooned herself in this place.

They talk to her neighbors. They barely know her. The only clue is a 30 year-old Christmas card written from a man who claims he doesn’t know her until he realizes that she is in fact his great-aunt.

On her answering machine was the message, “This is a message from No Name, No Number, No Message, No Answer.”

I wonder if she was happy. I wonder if this was all exactly as she wanted it.

Then, there was a young man named Clevins who lived alone at 15. He spoke of the joy of being able to make up his own room after a nomadic childhood. After his mother got sick, he decided to not tell anyone about it so that he could avoid being put into the foster care system.

And I wondered, is this one of the last things that we can have any control over? Our home and when and under what conditions people enter our space. When we walk out into the world. And what the course of our path is. Is their chosen aloneness an incredibly decisive act of self-determination?