Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions

The only resolution I've really been able to keep is to not make any more resolutions. I started this a couple of years ago -- not because I intentionally don't keep them, I simply just forget them. When asked in February what my resolution was, I'd had no idea. The only real resolution I've ever kept was to join a gym, and that was back in 2001 when I found myself newly single.

By "newly single" I mean it had not even been 24 hours yet. By sheer coincidence, two of my Exes broke up with me on New Year's Eve: Ex#1 in 1988/89 while we were out with friends at Lost & Found in DC. At 11:50 he looks at me and says, "I can't do this anymore." I thought he meant he couldn't stand the crowd and wanted to go home so I offered to get our coats. He said, "No, this. I can't do this anymore. You and me."

"You're breaking up with me now?? Ten minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve!?"

"Yeah I guess so. Hey this way we can start the year fresh with no baggage." And with that he walked away from me, leaving me in a stupor. And then the countdown came and I stood there alone while the whole world partied around me.

It happened again with Ex#3 in 1999/2000 - probably the biggest New Year's Eve of our lives, when the world ushered in a new millienium. I rented a tux and sat at home waiting for Ex#3 to show up so we could go out together. He never did. We'd had an argument a few days before and he stormed off, projecting his guilt onto me (I'd caught him cheating). But I was willing to overlook it and deal with it later if we could just get through this big night. He never showed up. So I popped the cork on the champagne bottle we had purchased together on our second anniversary, took a large gulp from the bottle and poured the rest out onto the ground. And stood and watched all the fireworks down on the Mall. The next day, I joined a gym.

But I digress. So . . . anyway . . . yeah, I don't make resolutions anymore. But anyway -

Happy New Year!

.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas (Un)Wrap Up

Christmas was nice.

Traveled home last Thursday night to spend several days with The Family. As expected, my parents' house is overdecorated, overcrowded, and over, uh, junk . . . food . . . ed. And I can't think of another place I'd rather be. Back home is a place full of food, love, and laughs.

Mom had an open house on the Saturday before Christmas, and I think at one point, there were 50 people in her house. She said there were more there that day than on Thanksgiving - the main reason I don't go home for that holiday. When you're used to living practically alone and your social life revolves around just a few people, it's difficult to suddenly be surrounded by a large group of people, even if they are family: it never gets quiet, even for a split second, and everyone is just a tad bit more hyper than usual.

On Sunday, my brother, sister and I went to my Aunt & Uncle's house - the ones who've been hosting Christmas Day dinner for the past 40+ years. They celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary on Christmas Eve - 60 years! I can't even imagine being alive that long, let alone being married to someone that long. Since they are both in their 80s now, prepping for a houseful of people is taking its toll on them, so a few of us showed up to help clean the house, cut up vegetables, basically anything they needed help doing. Mostly they just liked the company, and its good to spend time with them.

Christmas Eve I had dinner with my BFF, Jeff. Even though his house looks like Hallmark threw up on his lawn and Macy's had diarrhea in his dining room, he's still good company after all these years. We've been best friends for the past 20 years, and even though we now live in different time zones, we are still close enough to discuss his sexual escapades over a Cobb salad. Nothing says Christmas like a discussion about sex gas. Oh yeah, then I went to church.

On Christmas Day, my folks and I went to my youngest brother's house to watch his daughters open presents. He then ended up cooking a pretty kickass breakfast for everyone: homemade waffles, sausage, bacon, biscuits, and an egg dish that is a tradition in my family. I'm not even sure how to spell it - phonetically it sounds like "ash-maa". The recipe was passed down through German ancestors. Basically, it's egg gravy with bacon and sausage pieces poured over toast. Its probably more like "clogged arteries on toast" but it sure is good. And we only eat it on special occasions. After breakfast, my nieces taught me to play Guitar Hero II on their Xbox 360. Once I put on my youngest niece's new Hannah Montana wig - I was a hit.

The rest of the day was spent at my Aunt & Uncle's house. One of their grandsons had taken all of my Aunt's old home movies that she's been chronicling for the past 50 years and put them on DVD. So we sat and watched ourselves during the summer of '66, Christmas '88, Thanksgiving '59, relatives visiting from California in '72, loved ones who have long since passed, grandmothers who were children. There was an unspoken knowledge that this was the last Christmas we would be doing this - all gathering together in one place. With my Aunt and Uncle getting older and preparation getting harder for them, there's been a realization that a day like today probably won't continue. My parents host Thanksgiving, so I doubt they would take this day on too, even if they wanted to.

Christmas night is when my family trades gifts. My parents have a history of getting me the most bizarre presents and this year was no exception. My dad gave me a coin counter. The only coins I ever use are quarters for laundry, so not too sure what I will be doing with this contraption. Mom gave me handkerchiefs because she said, "No man should ever leave the house without a handkerchief in his pocket" -- perhaps, I think, if the man was 70 or this was 1940. However I did actually get what I asked for: the deluxe George Foreman Grill. It was too big to bring back on the plane so the folks are going to mail it to me next week. Aces!

Even though I had been home for about 6 days, I felt like I wasn't really ready to leave when the time came. It was nice to be around everyone, but I felt like I didn't really get a chance to visit with my parents because there was always something going on around us. I really like the one on two time I spend with them when no one else is around and I didn't get that this time. But all my feelings of homesickness faded when I met up with The BF at the airport so we could fly home together. We managed to score a row just for ourselves on an otherwise crowded flight (and the Exit Row to boot). It was good being with him after a week. After all, he is my home now.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And Happy New Year!
.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 20th

To understand what this blog entry is all about, click here:

2006 - Watch "The Devil Wears Prada" at my house with The BF and Jessica.

2005 - Get Christmas present from Mom in the mail; dinner at The BF's.

2004 - Christmas shopping at Pentagon City Mall; out to Remington's with Ex#5.

2003 - Office Holiday Party at my house.

2002 - Office closes at noon; dinner at Lauriol Plaza with Bruce, David, Greg and Aaron; drinks at JR's.

2001 - Ex#3 visits (4 months after breakup, mind you).

2000 - Holiday lunch at Cafe Asia with office staff.

1999 - Chi-Cha Bar with friend Rob C.

1998 - Dinner at Scotty's with Scotty, Ray, and Ex#3.

1997 - Christmas shop at Annapolis Mall.

1995 - Dinner at Il Radicchio with friend David P.

1994 - Paint stockings for Mom.

1993 - Christmas party at work; pick up car from garage at 6:00.

1990 - Office Christmas party.

1986 - Work from 4-12 (Braddock Motor Inn).

1985 - Work 4-10:30 (Camelot).

1984 - Speech final exam 7:00.

1983 - Audition for spring play; practice after school for Christmas game.

1982 - Rollerskating at Moon-Glo with friends.
.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shovel Your Sidewalks

As you might have noticed, my blogging has been much more sparse lately. This time of year always finds me particularly busy with business functions, social gatherings, seeing friends and traveling. As I said before, I'll be slowing my blogging down after the first of the year, but I will try to be better at posting until then.

Suffice is to say that all in life is good. If the janitor of my building would just shovel the damn sidewalk I might not have anything to complain . . . I mean . . . point out. Admittedly though, it is a slight embarrassment when the rest of the sidewalk on the street is cleared and your section isn't. It's nice to know I am not the only one who is bothered by this.

When I lived in a house, I took full responsibility of keeping the sidewalks cleared. Not sure of the laws in Chicago, but in DC a homeowner could get fined for not clearing the sidewalk in front of his home. Perhaps out here its not a law, but it would be the neighborly thing to do. But since the building janitor has been historically lazy, I'm not surprised that my building looks more like a home for transients than tenants.

But hey, it's supposed to be in the 40's this week too, right? So I guess the lazy get saved yet again, and the rest of us get slightly warm(er) weather. Everyone wins.


Meet Knut

Knut is a captive-born polar bear who was born at the Zoologischer Garten Berlin one year ago on December 5th. Rejected by his mother at birth, he was subsequently raised by zoo keepers. He was the first polar bear cub to survive past infancy at the Berlin Zoo in over thirty years. At one time the subject of international controversy, he became a popular tourist attraction and commercial success. After the German tabloid magazine Bild ran a quote from an animal rights activist that seemingly called for the death of the young cub, a worldwide public outrage was caused as fans rallied in support of his being hand-raised by humans.

Knut became the center of a mass media phenomenon dubbed "Knutmania" that spanned the globe and quickly spawned numerous toys, media specials, DVDs, and books. Because of this, the polar bear was largely responsible for a significant increase in revenue at the Berlin Zoo in 2007. Zoo attendance figures for the year increased by an estimated 30 percent, making the zoo the most profitable it has been in its 163 year history.


Monday, December 10, 2007

In Any Other Language

Now you can greet your international friends with a warm Christmas wish in their own native language:

(Albanian) - Gezur Krislinjden
(Argentine) - Feliz Navidad Y Un Prospero Ano Nuevo
(Armenian) - Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
(Bohemian) - Vesele Vanoce
(Brazilian) - Feliz Natal e Prospero Ano Novo
(China - Cantonese) - Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun
Sing Dan Fai Lok
(China - Mandarin) - Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
Sheng Dan Kuai Le
(Croatian) - Sretan Bozic
Èestit Boiæ i sretna Nova godina
(Czech) - Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
(Danish) - Gledlig jul og godt Nytt Aar
(Dutch) - Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar
Dutch (Netherlands) - Prettig Kerstfeest
(Filipinos) - Maligayang Pasko
(Finnish) - Hauskaa Joulua
Hyvää joulua ja Onnellista uutta vuotta
(French) - Joyeux Noël et heureuse année
(Gaelic-Irish) - Nolag mhaith Dhuit Agus Bliain Nua Fe Mhaise
(Gaelic-Scot) - Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur
(German) - Frohe Weihnachten und ein glückliches neues Jahr
(Greek) - Kala Khristougena kai Eftikhes to Neon Ethos
(Hawaiian) - Mele Kalikimake me ka Hauloi Makahiki hou
(Hebrew) - Mo'adim Lesimkha
(Hindi) - Shubh Christmas
(Hungarian) - Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
Boldog Karacsonyl es Ujevl Unnepeket
Kellemes Karacsonyt Es Boldog Uj Evet
(Icelandic) - Gledileg jol og farsaelt komandi ar
Gledlig jol og Nyar
(Indonesia) - Selamat Hari Natal
Selamah Tahun Baru
(Iraqi) - Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
(Irish) - Nollaig Shona Duit
(Irish) - Nodlaig mhaith chugnat
(Italian) - Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo
Buone Feste Natalizie
Buon Natale e felice Capodanno
(Japanese) - Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
(Korean) - Chuk Sung Tan
Sung Tan Chuk Ha.
(Lithuanian) - Linksmu Kaledu
linksmu sventu Kaledu ir Laimingu Nauju Metu
(Norwegian) - God Jul Og Godt Nytt Aar
(Peru) - Feliz Navidad y un Venturoso Año Nuevo
(Philippines) - Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon
(Polish) - Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia i szczesliwego Nowego Roku
(Portuguese) - Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
Feliz Natal e propero Ano Novo
(Romanian) - Sarbatori Fericite. La Multi Ani
(Russian) - S prazdnikom Rozdestva Hristova i s Novim Godom
(Serbian) - Hristos se rodi
(Serb-Croatian) - Sretam Bozic. Vesela Nova Godina
(Spanish) - Feliz Navidad y prospero Año Nuevo
(Swedish) - God Jul Och Gott Nytt År
(Turkish) - Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Yeni Yilnizi Kutar, saadetler dilerim
(Ukrainian) - Srozhdestvom Kristovym
(Vietnamese) - Mung Le Giang Sinh. Cung Chuc Tan Nien
(Welsh) - Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda
(Yugoslavian) - Cestitamo Bozic

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

First Memory

The first memory I can recall was a Christmas memory. Or rather a Christmas Eve memory.

My family was at my Aunt Jeannie's house for Christmas Eve. I was sitting on her mother-in-law's lap. I remember Nanny asking me if I was ready for Santa Claus to come tonight and I said yes. Then I asked Nanny if she would come to my house the next morning to see my toys and she said yes. She was wearing a black dress and pearls.

The year was 1969. I was 3.

But there's more to the story. I have to piece it together because I don't recall all of it. But the next thing I actually remember is feeling disappointment over the fact that Nanny had not come to my house like she said she would. She was neither my grandmother nor even related to me. She was my mother's sister's mother-in-law. But I invited her and she said she would come, then she didn't.

And that's my first memory ever.

I guess it left a great impression on me, because to this day I still take people at their word, albeit naively. In college, I lectured my friends once on the importance of following up on what they said they would do. If they told me they would call me later, I'd wait in my room for a call. Or if they asked me to come by their room later, I expected them to be there.

I'm a literal person and adhere to "words are deeds". I try very hard to follow through with whatever I say I will do. And I expect the same in return. I think I always harboured some resentment to Nanny for never showing up to my 3rd Christmas morning. But on the flip side, she ended up making me a man of my word.
.
.

How High The Moon

Some of you might remember this song from the opening scene of Biloxi Blues that starred Matthew Broderick, Corey Parker (whatever happened to him?), Penelope Miller and Chris Walken (he's my uncle so I can call him Chris).

Okay, just kidding.

Oddly this version wasn't recorded until 1953 or so, long after the world war WWII. It's my favourite version of the song, as so many other singers give it a nice rollicking beat. Not here. This is one of the laziest musical rolls that could be given this song. It's slow, and that's how it should be. All other versions of this song somehow sound wrong after Pat Suzuki's approach.

.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Holiday Tips

Now that holiday shopping is in full force, here are a few tips to make your shopping experience - and mine - a bit more pleasant:

1. Don't stop at the top of an escalator - people just keep coming behind you, so keep on moving. Don't stop to survey the land, take in the scenery, get your bearings, etc. Just keep moving!

2. Don't stop at the bottom of an escalator - see #1.

3. Don't stop at the top of a staircase - see #1.

4. Don't stop at the bottom of a staircase - see #1.

5. Look up and see where you are walking - it's not my job to get out of your way when I am walking on the right side of the aisle/sidewalk/hallway. Pick your head up and pay attention.

6. When you exit a building, keep in mind you are entering the flow of traffic. It's like an on-ramp for a highway. You need to pick up the pace and get with the flow. And no crossing traffic without looking both ways.

There's probably more stuff, and when I think of it, I'll be sure to remind you.
.